Sunbird — the sketchy iMessage for Android app — just shut down

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Sunbird letters app for AndroidNadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

What was declared to be an iMessage redeemer for Android smartphone users has bound been consumed in a anarchy of aegis and absolute negligence. Merely canicule afterwards the Nothing Chats app was removed from the Play Store, the tech at its foundation provided by Sunbird is additionally demography an bearding leave, accumulative suspicions of article actuality actively wrong.

Sunbird appeared on our alarm backward aftermost year, able abject bubbles for Android-to-iPhone messages. It additionally promised to array all messaging apps into a distinct cluster, somewhat like Beeper. Nothing adopted the Sunbird tech, arranged it into its own app for the Nothing Phone 2, and launched it with an aggressive video. “Sorry, Tim.” That’s the bulletin Nothing CEO Carl Pei sent.

Bring on the abject bubbles.

We accept in windows, not walls. If messaging casework are adding buzz users, again we appetite to breach those barriers down.

So… we've developed iMessage affinity for your Phone (2).

— Nothing (@nothing) November 14, 2023

Over the weekend, I noticed that the Sunbird app’s Google Play Store advertisement alternate a bare page. I originally anticipation it was bare due to some geographic restrictions. The aggregation fabricated no accessible advertisement apropos the same, except advice associates in the Sunbird Discord channel.

“We accept briefly shut bottomward the Sunbird app while we do a abundant aegis analysis,” the active said, abacus that the aggregation will action added capacity back it identifies the “exact occurrences.”

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Interestingly, the adumbration was aboriginal fabricated in the dev-announcements approach of Sunbird’s Discord network. “In an affluence of attention and to assure your arcane data, we are shutting bottomward Sunbird temporarily,” it said.

What I can’t blanket my arch about is why it took a day to bead the aforementioned advice in the accessible channel. And aloft all, why did Sunbird abort to accomplish an advertisement on its breath Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) handles?

In a bulletin that appeared today in the accessible Discord channel, Sunbird alone said “lots activity on” but didn’t accommodate any added abstruse capacity or advance on accident mitigations. “We accept absitively to abeyance Sunbird acceptance for now while we investigate aegis concerns,” says the message.

Digital Trends has accomplished out to Sunbird’s abstruse lead, Garin, for added advice and will amend this adventure as anon as they respond.

Sunbird alone started advice users via an in-app message. Earlier today, 9to5Google spotted in-app notifications from Sunbird users acquaint on Reddit, advice them that the app was briefly put on hold. It’s the aforementioned bulletin that was aboriginal aggregate in the Discord community.

The aegis risks

The Nothing Chats burst folio in the app.Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Security specialists at Texts begin that the messaging app Nothing Chats was not employing HTTPS aegis protocols for its messages. Instead, it acclimated the beneath defended HTTP standard, transmitting letters in unencrypted, apparent text. If history has accomplished us annihilation about agenda security, apparent argument is bad news.

A abstracted analysis appear that all types of advice through Nothing Chats — including text, images, and added media — were beatific in this unsecured, calmly arresting format. Additionally, it was baldheaded that all letters beatific and stored on Nothing Chats were unencrypted and hosted on a readily accessible Firebase platform.

Further allegation showed that afterwards users accredit application JSON Web Tokens (JWT), which are not defended during transmission, they accretion acceptance to Nothing Chat’s Firebase database. This acceptance allows them to appearance added users’ letters and files, which are beatific and stored in absolute time and in apparent text.

Nothing Chats on a Nothing Phone 2 compared with iMessage on an iPhone 15 Pro Max.iMessage on an iPhone 15 Pro Max (left) and Nothing Chats on a Nothing Phone 2 Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

All of this rings behemothic aegis alarms about the Sunbird (and the Nothings Chats) app. It’s abnormally annoying back it asks for your Apple ID credentials, the abracadabra badge that links aggregate from your emails and claimed photos to your cyberbanking details.

It would be absorbing to see area Nothing and Sunbird go from here. But with Apple all-embracing RCS and bushing the affection abysm for Android-iPhone messaging, I don’t anticipate it would be account risking your aloofness and abstracts aegis for a drudge that gives you abject babble bubbles.

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Nadeem Sarwar

Nadeem is a tech announcer who started account about air-conditioned smartphone tech out of concern and anon started writing…

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