The company behind the Nothing line of phones is preparing to launch an app that will solve the “green bubble” problem for Android users sending messages to their iPhone-using contacts.

First unveiled November 14, 2023, Nothing Chats is a free app that basically lets your text messages show up as green bubbles in iMessage chats, while supporting features like group chats, live typing indicators, voice notes, and full-resolution media sharing. But there are a few catches. Update: Very BIG catches. More on that below.

The first is that Nothing Chats will only work with the Nothing Phone (2) at launch. It will also only be available to users in the US, Canada, UK, and European Union. And, the app relies on a third-party service called Sunbird which is expected to remain free “for the foreseeable future,” but the way the service works makes it pretty clear that at some point somebody is going to have to pony up some money… if the company doesn’t get shut down by Apple in some way first.

That’s because Apple’s iMessage service only really supports Apple devices including Macs, iPhones, and iPads. So how does Sunbird make it possible to access iMessage features from Android? By using Macs as a proxy.

In a nutshell, here’s what happens when you use Nothing Chats (or Sunbird, which is in private beta at the moment):

  • You create an iCloud account.
  • Your messages are sent to a Mac Mini that’s acting as a server.
  • It’s then forwarded to your iMessage contacts.
  • Their responses go through that Mac Mini and make their way back to you.

Sunbird says the advantage is to this system is that, unlike some other Android-to-iMessage services, you don’t need your own Apple device that runs 24/7 for the service to work. And if you’re worried about sending your info to somebody else’s server, the company claims your iCloud login details are stored in an encrypted database, and your messages are end-to-end encrypted and will not be stored on any of Sunbird’s computers. And if you don’t use the Sunbird service for more than two weeks, your account information is deleted automatically.

At least that’s what the company claims. But even if everything worked as promised, using Sunbird and/or Nothing Chats would mean trusting a third-party company with your Apple account info. And right now it doesn’t look like Sunbird’s service does deliver on its promises: shortly after the service launched on November 17, 2023 users noticed that messages sent as plain text without any encryption.

Nothing has responded by pulling Nothing Chats from the Google Play Store, at least temporarily.

And even if that issue is resolved eventually, (which it may or may not be), it’s also unclear how long Sunbird can remain a free service. It clearly costs a fair amount of money to maintain a set of macOS devices in the cloud and manage the bandwidth necessary for users to send and receive messages. So Sunbird and Nothing Chats are unlikely to remain free forever.

Finally, some iMessage features also still aren’t available yet. For example, read receipts and message reactions and replies are listed as “coming soon,” and there’s no way to edit messages that have already been sent.

via The Verge, Washington Post, Nothing (YouTube), and Marques Brownlee (YouTube)

This article was first published November 14, 2023 and most recently updated November 18, 2023. 

Support Liliputing

Liliputing's primary sources of revenue are advertising and affiliate links (if you click the "Shop" button at the top of the page and buy something on Amazon, for example, we'll get a small commission).

But there are several ways you can support the site directly even if you're using an ad blocker* and hate online shopping.

Contribute to our Patreon campaign


Contribute via PayPal

* If you are using an ad blocker like uBlock Origin and seeing a pop-up message at the bottom of the screen, we have a guide that may help you disable it.

Subscribe to Liliputing via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,505 other subscribers

Join the Conversation


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. But if average people see a random imessage coming in not from a phone number, aren’t they going freak out, like this is probably a scammer or spammer or identity thief or something? The whole point of these imessage bridges is so that you avoid having stuck up iphone users blowing up in your face and immediately declaring you to be worthless for not having an iphone.
    There’s only one way to use imessage with your phone number, and that’s to have an iphone, with a SIM in it, with your phone number on it, signed into your icloud account, and not turned off. Airmessage lists numerous methods, but all are variations on this. Except method #6, which doesn’t work anymore. Sunbird may have figured out a way to exploit apple’s momentary tolerance of an absurdly large number of icloud accounts on a single mac, but I don’t think they can afford messing around with iphones and cellular connections.

    1. Nothing you said in this post would happen and you can use iMessage with your phone number without an iPhone. At least do some research before posting asinine garbage.

      Also I guarantee you all Sunbird is doing is running Bluebubbles.

      1. How about instead of insulting people, you show them why they’re wrong.
        For example, you could explain why the airmessage community hasn’t added any methods that don’t involve an iphone to this list.
        And searching for phone or number in bluebubble’s documentation doesn’t mention anything relevant and the bluebubbles posts on various sites i’m finding all reference that page when they reference anything at all.
        Or you could show us a method to sending an imessage that, to the iphone user, appears to be coming from a phone number, which doesn’t involve using an iphone. I’m sure someone would be grateful for that information.

    2. “The whole point of these imessage bridges is so that you avoid having stuck up iphone users blowing up in your face and immediately declaring you to be worthless for not having an iphone.”

      I doubt that has ever happened, and if it did, you should drop that person as they are not worth your time and sanity.

      1. Blowing up in your face is of course the worst case. Other, more likely, but less scary, possibilities include:
        -vague complaints about how “texting you just isn’t enjoyable” or something like that
        -vague complaints about “my needs” and “accommodating”.
        -being the one thing that pushes them over the edge and deciding you’re not worth talking to again because on top of being a loser you also “have android”.
        -being in a group text only to find that everyone else isn’t talking because someone else realized you were the reason the group text was green and messaged the other guys behind your back to start a new one without you. This is especially common in group projects in schools today, where just breaking away from those guys just isn’t an option, and 87% or more of the student body is using an iphone.
        -You just get responded to far less often and are given no indication as to why.
        -The other guy would just LOVE to blow up in your face but is restrained (barely) by not wanting to look like a psychopath.
        You think this doesn’t happen? Just look at these:

        And furthermore, if this wasn’t an issue, why would Airmessage, Bluebubbles, Wemessage, and Sunbird all have a reason to exist all at the same time?

        1. My bad, I’m not a teenager, I don’t have fake/asshole friends, and I don’t have a fragile ego, so this whole world of iMessage snobbery must have gone right over my head.