Apple might have landed themselves in hot water with the FCC. Following the shut down and blocking of the Beeper Mini app, it looks like the FCC is now interested in launching an investigation into Apple. According to FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, they are now looking into whether Apple’s decision could have violated FCC Part 14 rules.
For those unfamiliar, Beeper Mini launched late last year and basically allowed Android users to send and receive iMessages on their devices. At the time of launch, the company claimed that it basically routed its messages through Apple’s own servers. This seemed like a more secure alternative compared to what others were doing.
Today, I called for the @FCC to investigate whether Apple violated our Part 14 rules by blocking Beeper Mini – an app that enabled interoperability between iOS & Android messaging.
Beeper bridged the “blue bubble – green bubble” divide that Apple maintains as part of a broader… pic.twitter.com/vxefQZKDXb
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) February 12, 2024
Unsurprisingly, Apple wasn’t too thrilled by this and quickly moved to block the app. The developers of Beeper Mini worked quickly to come up with workarounds, but despite their attempts, Apple refused to give in. Beeper Mini’s developers ultimately gave up. We thought that was the end of the story, but Carr’s announcement suggests that the drama isn’t over yet.
The FCC’s Part 14 rules talks about accessibility. According to Carr, he pointed how the low contrast on the green bubbles used to denote non-iMessages on iPhones made it difficult for people with low vision to see. He also implied that apps like Beeper Mini “encouraged accessibility and usability”.
The FCC hasn’t launched a formal investigation yet. Carr’s announcement only suggests that an investigation could take place. So for now, Apple is in the clear.