26th May 2020 AirMessage
I made the switch from an iPhone 7 to Android last month. Not for a particular handset, but features like a headphone jack, expandable storage, USB Type-C, and a 128 GBs of storage Apple does not make available on a iPhone; let alone a phone that costs under $229.
I am not an iOS power user. I don’t use Apple services like iCloud, Photos, Apple Music, or Shortcuts. Many of the third-party services I do use, like Slack, Outlook, Nike+, Instapaper, Foobar2000, and Brave offer native Android apps that are just as good if not better than their iOS equivalents. While Twitter, Reddit, RSS feeds, podcasts, and weather are available on Android, I will always miss the polish of my favorite third-party iOS apps; Twitterrific, Apollo, Unread, Castro, and Dark Sky.
There is however one Apple service I thought I would have to leave behind after making the switch to Android. Like many of you, I have been using iMessage — Apple’s blue bubble messaging service — since it debuted in October, 2011. I feared my move to Android meant missing messages from friends and family during the pandemic. Luckily I found an alternative to Apple’s proprietary messaging app that works on Android.
AirMessage brings the blue bubble messages of Apple’s proprietary iMessage communication protocol to my Android phone. It does this with an easy to install Android app, and a service running on my always-on, Internet connected Mac mini. I have been using AirMessage alongside my iPhone 7 for over a month now, and I have not missed a single iMessage. The best part is friends and family who have become accustom to my blue bubble messages over the last eight years don’t know I am using an Android phone.
One downside of AirMessage is that the service requires an always-on Internet connected Mac. AirMessage can not send or receive new iMessages if my Mac mini is shut down or put to sleep. AirMessage requires access to the Internet and a port forwarded through my router’s firewall. Even though my Mac mini stores my entire iMessage archive, AirMessage’s conversation history is limited to correspondence sent through my Android phone..
Since all of your messages are first routed through your Mac computer, it may simply be best to think of AirMessage as of extension of this computer.
And because AirMessage is an extension of Messages for Mac, it does not include include all of the modern features of Messages for iOS; including somescreen effects, stickers, Memoji and iMessage apps.
AirMessage is not a service I would recommend to long time Android user’s, but a crutch to allow long time iPhone users like myself the chance to try out Android without missing out on the iMessages from the people who matter most.