Nothing got into a big mess when its app, Nothing Chats, was found to be reading the user’s texts despite claiming that the messages are end-to-end encrypted. Amid the rising privacy concerns with the app, Sunbird, the service that powered Nothing Chats, has also been shut down, at least for now.
In a notice sent to its users, Sunbird says it has “decided to pause Sunbird usage for now” while it looks into reports that its messages aren’t actually end-to-end encrypted. “We will update you when we are ready to proceed”, the message to users further reads.
Not only this but hours before the full shutdown of the app’, Sunbird had sent another notification to users saying that it would only shut down Sunbird Media, the service that allows the sharing of media on Sunbird. Aside from these two notifications, Sunbird hasn’t made any public announcements.
The whole situation with Sunbird seems suspicious as of now. A member who is part of the Sunbird Discord server where the testing of the app takes place claims that they did bring up some sort of security concerns with the Sunbird team through that Discord server, which actually resulted in a ban. Further, an article from ArsTechnica notes how Sunbird refused to answer some of the technical questions that they were asked at the time of launch when they were briefed about their service.
For those uninitiated, Sunbird is an app that claims to bring iMessage to your Android phone, along with the blue bubbles, so it appears as if you are using an Apple device to text via iMessage. The Sunbird service also powered Nothing Chats, which was recently also pulled down by the brand, where it blamed “several bugs” for the takedown. These bugs were then identified as a major security and privacy breach for users, where the app falsely claimed that it was end-to-end encrypted.
As of now, there has been no announcement from Nothing regarding the situation. Even if Sunbird and Nothing do bring back their respective apps at some point in future, it would be difficult to build trust amongst users once again post such a disaster. Moreover, with Apple adopting RCS, it remains to be seen whether people still want the blue bubble, because the adoption of RCS solves numerous other issues Android users had while texting with iOS users.