Nothing, the UK-based tech startup led by Carl Pei, recently launched the Nothing Chats messaging platform to bridge the messaging gap between Android and iOS devices. However, in response to widespread concerns over privacy and security issues, Nothing has decided to pull the beta version of the app from the Google Play Store, citing the need to address several bugs.
Privacy Concerns and Criticisms: After the release of Nothing Chats, users quickly raised alarms about potential security vulnerabilities. One major point of contention was the system’s transmission of Apple ID credentials via HTTP, rather than the more secure HTTPS. Users are required to log in with their Apple ID through the app to access iMessage services. Critics, including Kishan Bagaria, the founder of Texts.com, highlighted the app’s perceived insecurity, claiming that messages sent through Sunbird’s system lack end-to-end encryption and rely on a BlueBubbles-powered backend.
User Findings on Privacy Issues: Several users on X (formerly Twitter) expressed their concerns and findings regarding Nothing Chats’ privacy shortcomings. Dylan Roussel (@evowizz) emphasized that Sunbird has access to all messages sent and received through the app, while another user, wukko(@uwukko), revealed that the app sends all messages and media attachments to Sentry. The data is further transmitted and stored through Firebase, and notably, it is allegedly completely unencrypted.
Nothing’s Response and Beta Removal: In response to the mounting concerns, Nothing made the decision to remove the Nothing Chats beta from the Google Play Store. The company stated that it is “delaying the launch until further notice to work with Sunbird to fix several bugs.” However, the announcement did not specify the nature of these bugs or directly address the privacy issues raised by users.
App Features and Original Intent: Originally designed to enable Android users to engage in iMessage conversations, Nothing Chats promised blue bubble compatibility with iMessage and support for RCS between Android devices. The app included features such as end-to-end encryption, group messaging, live typing indications, high-resolution media sharing, and read and delivery receipts. Despite the setback, Nothing aimed to bring additional features in the future.
Conclusion: The withdrawal of the Nothing Chats beta underscores the critical importance of addressing user privacy and security concerns. Nothing, in collaboration with Sunbird, will likely reevaluate and enhance the app’s security features before reintroducing it to the public. The incident serves as a reminder of the meticulous attention required in ensuring the privacy and security of messaging platforms, especially when dealing with sensitive information like Apple ID credentials.