The good news is you can use iMessage on Android – but you need a Mac to do it.
iMessage is a very popular messaging service that, like WhatsApp, allows users to exchange text, photos, videos, voice notes and much more, but Android users can’t join in the fun – officially.
Why? To put it simply, you can’t officially use iMessage on Android because Apple’s messaging service runs on a dedicated end-to-end encrypted system using its own dedicated server. And, because messages are encrypted, the message network is only available to devices that know how to decrypt messages.
It should come as no surprise that Apple, the same company that bought Dark Sky and closed its Android partner, does not offer the iMessage application for Android users – Apple wants cool effects and features to be exclusive for those who invest in iPhone, iPad or Mac.
That being said, there is a way to get around end-to-end encryption, but that will require a Mac and an app called AirMessage. We outline the process of using iMessage on Android here.
How to use iMessage on Android
While you can’t simply download the iMessage app on Android and text your Apple-based friends, there are plenty of troubleshooting apps available.
However, all of this requires a Mac to use, because the Mac functions as an intermediary between your Android and the end-to-end encrypted server that Apple uses for iMessage. That means your message is sent via the Android app, which then delivers the message to iMessage on your Mac and sends it to the recipient, and vice versa. The only catch? Your Mac must be turned on and connected to the internet to use this service.
We outline AirMessage here, as we’ve found it to be one of the simpler ways to access iMessage on your Android, but there are many alternatives available online.
What do you need
- A Mac.
- An Android smartphone running Android 6 or later.
- AirMessage application.
Set up AirMessage on your Mac
- Download the AirMessage server for your Mac.
- Open the AirMessage application. If you run into security issues while trying to install an app from an unknown developer, go to System Preferences> Security & Privacy and click Open Anyway.
- Accept the access request and you will see a welcome message appear on the screen, directing you to the icon in the menu bar where the application is located.
- Click Open Preferences and replace the default password with one of your choices.
- Go to System Preferences> Security & Privacy> Privacy and select Accessibility from the list on the left.
- Click the lock icon at the bottom left to unlock your Settings menu – you may be asked to enter the password you use to log into your Mac for security purposes.
- Click the + icon and open Applications and double click AirMessage.
- If running macOS Mojave or later, select Full Disk Access in the menu on the left and repeat step 7.
- Since the software acts as a server, you’ll need to disable your Mac’s sleep settings to make sure it’s always on and ready to send / receive messages. Go to System Preferences> Energy Saver and change Computer Sleep to Never.
- Go to System Preferences> Network and note down your IP address – you will need it later.
Now that your Mac is ready to deliver the iMessage text, it’s time to set up your Android phone.
Link your Android to the AirMessage app
- Open the Google Play Store and install the AirMessage app.
- Open the AirMessage Apps.
- Enter your local Mac IP address and the password you created earlier. Click Connect.
If all goes according to plan, you’ll see all the iMessage threads from your Mac. Test whether you can send messages by texting iPhone – if the bubble is blue, it’s iMessage. You will receive notifications of incoming messages and the ability to send photos and videos, as you do on the iPhone, but some of the more advanced features – such as voice notes and message animations – are not available.
Set up Port Forwarding to complete the experience
This last part is optional, but essential if you want to continue using iMessage while you’re out and as it was initially, it will only work when connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Mac. To do that, you’ll need to set up Port Forwarding on your router, configuring your network to allow connections from outside (i.e. your phone).
The problem is that the Port Forwarding setup is different for almost all routers on the market, which means there isn’t a single set of instructions to follow. There are written instructions on how to do this on the AirMessage website, but it will require a bit of router-specific googling.
After setting up Port Forwarding, you should be able to access iMessage on Android from anywhere, not just when you are at home.