Gadgets Magazine

Why Was iMessage Pulled from the PlayStore

Posted on the 22 November 2013 by Janeandrew01

Just a couple of days ago different articles screamed trouble for the iMessage app. The Android version of the app seemed to have caused a good amount of chaos, and not long after it was kicked off by the PlayStore by the good folks over at Google. So what went wrong? As it would turn out the app wasn’t what it was pretending to be. For starters, it’s not from Apple, and isn’t really an official app.

iMessage: what’s the big deal?

For those who don’t know the iMessage was the answer that Apple came up with to apps such as WhatsApp and Viber. It lets you send messages to others with the iMessage by using the data network or Wi-Fi that the phone uses for internet.  It’s supposed to be a nifty little solution for a phone bill that runs all the way to mars; and the app reportedly has hiked security so the data/messages on it don’t go anywhere they’re not meant to. It’s a tool that people are in awe of, there’s no doubt about that, so it wasn’t surprising when it found its way on the PlayStore so that Android users could chat up a storm with their iOS buddies.

Its Origin on Android

So if it’s not from Apple then where did it come from? Seems like a chap called Daniel Zweigart was behind the creation of the app. The likely case is that Zweigart just wanted to help Android users connect with their iOS posse, but ended up creating an app which raised several security flags. It was only a matter of time before the Iphone app was brought over to Android, but no one thought it would happen this way. The data from Android’s iMessage was transferred back and forth so easily because it was disguised as Mac Minis.  The information gathered by the app was stored on severs based in China; while the Android users using iMessage would have little to worry about, their iOS using counterparts could potentially lose their Apple IDs and message data to the devil. The apps publicly-facing SQL server made matters much worse. It more or less made the iPhone users involved open to a world of threats and hacks.

Game not really over

In an increasingly dangerous digital environment users can’t do enough to keep their private data safe. So when an app, as useful as it is, shows up touting a tool which essentially puts user data at risk, one can’t help but become exceedingly cynical.  What’s worse is that the app is actually still available for download at different third party stores. The developer has made no efforts to get rid of it either since it’s still up for grabs on his official site. Why is this troubling? Even if the developer has no intention of messing around with user data, other people might. The app should have been completely removed or tweaked to remove all the security bugs it is plagued with.

Implications for Users

There are several alternatives to the iMessage app, all of which work perfectly well on the Android platform, and are compatible with iOS as well. Users don’t think twice about the implication of downloading any app onto their phones. For once an app on the PlayStore wasn’t making life miserable for Android people, but the trouble sure did manage to transcend all the way over to Apple. This is another wakeup call for users to actually read the fine print on the apps that they’re installing, and stick to the names they’re acquainted with instead of downloading every app they come across.

Users at the end of the day can’t be expected to act like security experts, nor can they expected to have the information needed to make informed decisions. In cases where an app checks out in terms of permissions and reputation, since there’s still a chance the backend handling of data is not top notch (which is largely the problem with the iMessage app). Companies like Google and Apple are the ones that need to take a stricter stand against apps that are potential disasters in the making.

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