iMessage for Android. Be careful what you trust!

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Android chattingA new app, which claims to bring Apple’s proprietary iMessage chat service to Android users, is raising concerns.

The free app, called iMessage Chat, is available in Google’s official Android Play store, and appears to allow Android users to instant message with their iPhone/iPad/Mac-owning buddies.

Curiously, the app was not written by Apple but by a third-party Android developer called Daniel Zweigart.

Perhaps surprisingly, Android users who have tested out the software claim that the app *does* work, and does allow you to send and receive messages between Android smartphones and users of Apple devices.

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But at what cost are these messages being sent?

Sure, you don’t have to pay any money to send a message – iMessage between Apple devices is also free – but there are other considerations.

iMessage for Android

As 9to5Mac reports, the Android app fools Apple’s servers into believing it is a Mac mini in order to exchange messages with your Apple-loving friends.

And to do that, you need to enter your Apple ID and password.

The same password that you use to buy apps, movies and music. The same user id and password that you use to locate your iPhone when you lose it.

You should never hand those details over to strangers.

And there’s more…

Jay Freeman, the developer behind the Cydia app store for jailbroken iPhones, raised concerns on Google Plus that the Android iMessage app doesn’t appear to connect directly with Apple’s servers, but instead processes any messages and data it receives via servers in China.


Another developer, Steve Troughton-Smith, warned on Twitter that the Android iMessage app had the ability to silently download code onto devices in the background – a feature which could be used to install malware.

I cannot state with certainty that this Android version of iMessage Chat was written with malicious intentions, but clearly there are more than enough reasons to stay well away from it.

No doubt Apple won’t delay in trying to stamp it out too. Not only will they be unhappy about their iMessage trademark being used without permission, they surely will be concerned that Android users might somehow imagine that the software has been officially endorsed by the firm.

iMessage in the Google Play store

I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple has a quiet word in Google’s ear and asks them to remove iMessage Chat from the Android app store sooner rather than later. Of course, that won’t prevent the .apk appearing on third-party app marketplaces, elsewhere on the web.

Once again, Google’s policing of its marketplace is brought into question by this definitely shady-looking app.

Update: Controversial Android iMessage app pulled from the Google Play store.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

17 comments on “iMessage for Android. Be careful what you trust!”

  1. Bobby

    I agree, Android is not for a lot of Apple users. Apple
    tries to K.I.S.S. and that fits for lots of their users. I on the
    other hand am not computer illiterate and have the ability to use
    logic and reason so I would not personally use such an app. The
    first thing I checked was who made it. Without looking I was 95%
    certain it was not going to be Apple. Knowing how Apple handles
    iMessage and that it would be required to communicate with Apple
    servers to work, I would know that a 3rd party would be unable to
    do such a thing in a non-shady manner. Conclusion: If you are using
    Apple because your vanity is higher than your brain cell count,
    then stick with Apple. They are there to help protect you from
    yourself. That is a good environment for you to be in. However, if
    you understand logic and reason, and do not just blindly install
    something because a word that is trademarked by a company is used
    and you just assume it is Apple, then take a shot at Android. See
    what it is like to have freedom. Why cut access off from great apps
    like Swype or the ability to choose what launcher you use just
    because (like on Windows) people can make apps that may take
    advantage of you? Do you not leave the house because someone might
    pickpocket you? No, instead you just make sure you are aware of
    what could happen and do your best to be preventative. People need
    to stop being lazy and just look into any questionable apps before
    installing them blindly like a fool.

    1. F. Dora Beard · in reply to Bobby

      Logic and reason? Vanity higher than brain cell count? Now
      that, my friend, was a very brave reply.

    2. CRB · in reply to Bobby

      And people call iPhone users smug… *slow clap*

    3. 3vlv · in reply to Bobby
    4. ReallyBobby? · in reply to Bobby

      Wow, I really hope you don't write too many
      comments out there. I love Android and understand all the reasons
      it's better for me than Apple's offerings.
      However, I don't go out of my way to trash Apple and its
      users. They may seem ignorant in many ways, but who fucking cares?
      Is it really worth being a complete asshole about?

      1. Yes Really Me. · in reply to ReallyBobby?

        Maybe it is because I switched from iPhone 5 to Galaxy. I used iPhone since the iPhone 3. I find it sad that this many people require someone to hold their hand to make it in this world. For people to accuse Android of being dangerous just because it is more open than the iPhone. I assume a lot of these people write that kind of stuff from their Windows PC's. That is a very open environment and people survived just fine for DECADES in that "virus filled, malware contaminated" environment.

        So it is funny to me to see a bunch of Apple fans suddenly get offended because someone talk about Android the way they talk about Apple. Sorry if you guys can't handle the taste of your own medicine. I too loved the iPhone for many years, because for many years, it really was the best option out there. The difference between me and most of you I guess, is you have to continue to earn my business. I don't just keep blindly buying your products because at one point you were the best. If you want to remain on top, you need to innovate. The innovation at Apple unfortunately is sitting 6 feet under with Steve Jobs.

        So I apologize for coming across smug, but I do grow tired of seeing all the Apple people trying to downplay what has become a better operating system. Just like with Windows (a war they lost) they try to play the security card. Well sorry, but if you are worried about your security on your device, is it not best to get educated about it instead of locking yourself away in an OS basement?

        Like I said before, you do not stay in your house for fear of getting robbed or any other number of things that can happen to you in the real world, so why do it digitally? Why keep blaming the OS for the ignorance of the user?

        Keep the hate flowing though, I like it. :) Shows me leaving the Apple community and waking up was the correct choice. I know there is a couple Android people here not too happy with my tone, well sorry but the Apple people have no problem acting like that until someone does it to them. I for one do not mind giving them a taste of their own medicine. Sorry to all the other Android users that endured Apple folk for the last few years. I will never stick to one company just for the sake of sticking with them, sorry. I earn my money, so you are going to have to earn it from me. Like it or not.


        1. Test Monster · in reply to Yes Really Me.

          Although you do come across a bit harsh, I have to agree with you on this.

        2. Big E · in reply to Yes Really Me.

          I don't like Apple, but there products work for
          some people. It's funny how you bash people with IPhones,
          but you yourself admitted to using them for a few years. So while I
          was being logical for the last several years, you were being
          ignorant? The IPhone hasn't been a better phone since
          2009, maybe equal to the higher end Android phones, but not better,
          and certainly not better than anyone's (with a couple
          brain cells) rooted Android phone.

  2. While I wouldn't install this (I'm an
    illogical, unreasoable iOS user), i imagine that it could be very
    nice for Android folk who spend a lot of time texting iPhone people
    (or wishing that iphone people would return their texts). That
    being said, would getting a new, unique AppleID, and only using it
    for this app mitigate any of the security concerns presented here?

    1. Haroon Dar · in reply to Michael Wendell

      problem is that when you make an apple id they require your
      credit card number hence the problem in security.

  3. Who wants to talk to Apple users? I don't care who
    won The Bachelor last night.

  4. D

    "Conclusion: If you are using Apple because your
    vanity is higher than your brain cell count, then stick with
    Apple." An observation: Based on his own logic anyone with
    a vanity level as high as Bobby displays has a very low brain cell
    count and is most likely a failed Apple user. Further conclusion
    based on Bobby's comment: IF you suffer in silence as an
    abused spouse because you are obviously at fault, you might want to
    give Android a try. Obviously everything there is the end users
    fault so you should be on familiar ground. As someone who has
    worked on the support side of this equation I can tell you that
    assumed knowledge is like a cancer. And an air of superiority
    because one believes everyone should know even the fundamentals of
    computing is the death knell of of common sense. I have dealt with
    lawyers, doctors, teachers, nurses, and many others who are not on
    the low end of the IQ scale who DON'T CARE about computer
    basics. Add to this the number of users who have never owned or
    used a PC and now they have what is effectively a computer in their
    pocker and don't realize it. Google has a moral
    responsibility not to put it's end users in a compromised
    security position by allowing this on Google Play. To say otherwise
    is foolish. Smartphones, whatever the OS, are computers for the
    masses, not the asses.

    1. Bobby · in reply to D

      Sorry but it is not Google's fault. Just like it is not Microsoft's fault people make spyware, malware and viruses. I do see where you are coming from in thought, it is Google's store so they should be careful what is offered.

      So do you think all stores in the world should not carry things that could harm you? Should radio shack be shut down because people with knowledge can build devices to spy on your with the stuff they buy from that store? Should Lowes stop carrying PVC pipe and things because someone made a potato gun out of one and hurt someone?

      This is the thought process that scares me most. I do not need anyone looking out for me in that manner. If someone releases and application on Google, it is MY responsibility to make sure that I do not get screwed over. Did you blame Wall Street for Bernie Madoff? They made his product accessible to all the people that thought they were making mountains of cash off him?

      It was each investor's responsibility to look into the investment and to make sure they did not get scammed. Sorry but I cannot hold Google responsible for creating a store and making it open, like the internet and the Windows environment. That is the way it goes you either get educated, or you learn the hard way.


      1. D · in reply to Bobby

        Sorry, I overestimated you. </br>

        There is no logical argument to anything you said. And your "reason" appears to be "because I said so." Obviously the rantings of a person who loves his straw men. You might want to take a class, or at least read a book, on the logic and reason you tout.</br>

        While it may be true that YOU don't need anybody looking out for YOU that does not carry over to the general populace, many of whom I have already pointed out may be intellectually superior to many in this forum. Let's go back to your original comment and disect:</br>
        <li>I on the other hand am not computer illiterate and have the ability to use
        logic and reason so I would not personally use such an app. – But what about those who don't have your tremendous powers of logic and reason?</li>
        <li>The first thing I checked was who made it. – But what about those who would never know where to look for this info? Again, not like you, but not stupid by any stretch of the imagination.</li>
        <li>Without looking I was 95% certain it was not going to be Apple. – What, not 100%? What would it take to make you 100% certain.</li>
        <li>Knowing how Apple handles iMessage and that it would be required to communicate with Apple servers to work, I would know that a 3rd party would be unable to do such a thing in a non-shady manner. – Again, YOU would know. What about the person who spent his life becoming a brain surgeon or heart surgeon? Might not have time or interest to learn what we are discussing here? Would he know? If not, does that make him stupid?</li></ol></br>

        My problem here is not iPhone vs Android. My problem is the way you group everyone unlike you into one box labeled IDIOTS.


        BTW – I just want to point out one glaring point you overlooked, or glossed over in your previous comments. Google Play is actively participating in the distribution of software that is known to have security issues such as this.

        Your Microsoft example is quite the contrary. In the days when Windows was less secure Microsoft was not actively distributing malware/spyware/viruses. They were in fact doing all they could to plug every security hole as quickly as they could. That is why we now celebrate Update Tuesday every month.

  5. The 2 iOS features in an ideal world being multi platform
    be that iOS, Android, or one of the other humpteen minor OSes and
    OS forks would be Facetime and iMessage. Funny thing with Facetime
    on day one Apple own mouths claimed Facetime was going to put
    through the process of "open sourced"
    "Tomorrow" (Pinnacolo lied ever since) What which
    might be better would be interoperability standards between 2 (or
    more) services which communicate as such like until recently (e.g.
    AIM-ICQ, MSN-Yahoo and Trillian) probably via a plug in

  6. Topgun

    For an Android user, I would never use it but, its realitify safe. The permissions it needs are "This app has access to these permissions:
    Network communication
    full network access
    view network connections
    view Wi-Fi connections
    Phone calls
    read phone status and identity
    Lock screen
    disable your screen lock
    Affects Battery
    prevent device from sleeping"

    It doesn't even read contact data. So if you just have a throw away Apple ID with no CC or personal information, then its safe. See that is the cool thing about Android is you can see before you install EXACTLY what permissions you are giving it to on your device.

  7. soltltym

    Who is this "Booby" . . . .sorry, I mean "Bobby" guy? King of the Androids? What an ego! . . . well, sorry, Booby, but no matter how you slice it, or how much you open your big mouth, Android is Linux. Everybody knows how Linux has failed for consumers over the years. The reason why? Open to everyone – especially the bad ones (hackers). It's a nice play toy for the hobby lobby guys, and that is all that it will always be. You would be better off getting a "real" Unix OS that is stable and professional.

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