If you take the time to think about it, one of the main selling points of any smartphone’s operating system is its functionality and usefulness as far as the user is concerned. According to askmen.com, Android managed to beat out the Apple iOS in terms of number of downloaded apps, and perhaps for good reason. Many users are attracted to Android because of the sheer number of devices that use it. Apple’s iOS, while arguably more convenient in terms of storing files and accessing media, is limited to just Apple devices. Furthermore, there’s a much wider network of distribution channels for Android apps, while apps for the iOS are only available through the Apple store. While it may be true that this intensified control (and scrutiny) over iOS apps ensures quality service for Apple users, apps for Android encourage users to download them simply by virtue of the fact that they’re pretty much everywhere.
Unfortunately, this rather cavalier approach to making apps available for download has proven to be a double-edged sword for the candy-loving green alien. Versatility may be the Android’s greatest weapon, but it’s also the same thing that makes it less secure than the iOS.
iMessage Chat for Android: Nifty, but not trustworthy
iMessage by Apple is one of its most popular services, mainly because it lets Apple devices exchange messages for free. The service was introduced in 2011 via the iOS 5, and has since been exclusive to Apple devices. While there are third-party apps that also allow Android users to send and receive text messages for free, the lure of being able to technically bypass the boundaries between Android and the iOS to send messages for free is perhaps too much to resist. That’s why it’s no surprise that somebody took the time to make an Android-compatible version. The iMessage Chat application, developed by Daniel Zweigart, allows Android owners to enter their Apple ID and password to reach Apple users’ numbers via text or e-mail, free of charge. According to CNET, the app is fully functional.
The app functions by emulating a Mac Mini for the purposes of gaining access to the actual iMessage server. Of course, this presents a major security risk. A Google Plus post from Cydia developer Jay Freeman posits that the data sent and received via the app – including the user’s information – is processed through the app developer’s server in China. Freeman explains the process in simpler terms via a comment on Hacker News: “I believe that this application actually does connect to Apple’s servers from the phone, but it doesn’t then interpret the protocol on the device. Instead, it ferries the data to the third-party developer’s server, parses everything remotely, figures out what to do with the data, and sends everything back to the client decoded along with responses to send back to Apple. Doing it this way means that Apple can’t just block them by IP address, it avoids them having to distribute their ’secret sauce’ (understanding the iMessage protocol is clearly very valuable), and it potentially allows them to use actual Apple code on their servers (in case they haven’t spent the time to fully break the fairplay obfuscation that Apple is using for some of their keys).”
Unsurprisingly, the app seems to have been taken down from the Google Play Store.
BlackBerry delays BBM for Android (and iOS)
In light of recent news about BlackBerry’s financial troubles, smartphone users had a ray of light to look forward to in the form of the popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service for Android and iOS. The BBM app is planned to be released as a free service via both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Users will be able to install BBM on their Android or Apple business phone, allowing them to reach other BBM users via call or text for free via a unique PIN that also ensures security.
However, the release of the BBM for Android and iOS has been indefinitely pushed back, due to complications arising from the appearance of an unofficial version of the app for Android. A statement from BlackBerry reveals that within just 8 hours of the unsanctioned app’s launch, more than 1.1 million users downloaded and tried the app on their Androids. As a result, the launch will be pushed back to a later date, as the company takes time to sort out problems presented by this unexpected development.
This doesn’t mean that users who already downloaded the app will be unable to use it. BlackBerry confirms that “[c]ustomers who have already downloaded BBM for iPhone will be able to continue to use BBM.” This is in response to the concerns of Apple users from countries where the iPhone app already went live, namely New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, India, and UAE. Android users, however, might have to wait a bit longer.
Has this news affected your opinions and preferences about the Android OS? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the Comments section.