THE OPEN NATURE of Google's Play Store has come under scrutiny with the release of an app that seems too good to be true and probably is.
iMessage Chat claims to bridge the gap between Android and Apple owners by bringing the bespoke Apple instant messenger (IM) service to Android customers.
However, 9to5Mac reports that scrutiny of the .apk file - the form the program takes outside the Play Store ecosystem - suggests that there is a serious potential risk to personal data. The app works by using the developer's own server as a proxy to spoof messages into appearing to come from an iPad Mini, thus bypassing the strict "Apple Only" nature of the iMessage protocol. However, in doing so, it means that the developer has access to all of your message data.
People that have tried the app reported varying results - some report that they can only message other Android users, while others have only some Apple contacts.
The developer has given a Twitter handle @huluwago to follow for updates, but at the time of writing it was less than informative.
We are highly suspicious of this. Though we love the idea of breaking down barriers between different phone makers and their ecosystems, an unauthorised app such as this leaves users' phones exposed to all kinds of risks.
Samsung has attempted their own private IM service with Chaton, while Blackberry recently had to delay plans to bring BBM to a cross-platform audience. But with so many cross-platform alternatives already available such as Whatsapp and Kik, we don't understand why anyone would use a service like iMessage anyway, especially an unauthorised app with no track record.
So our advice is simple - uninstall it, and then run a virus checker. µ