Ask Android users the one thing they regret about built-in features, and what will they tell you? You can download an app for everything, but the lack of something like iMessage, Apple’s encrypted data-based messaging protocol, is what gets to them the most. (This may or may not be true.)
One of CyanogenMOD’s lead developer’s, Koushik Dutta, (who is well known for other projects like ROM Manager and Helium), has been working on his own version of iMessage that would work between CyanogenMOD members. In effect, it would function nearly identically to iMessage: the initial message would be sent encrypted through the user’s data network, and would fall back to the regular SMS protocol in the event of failure.
While this would only work between some seven million CyanogenMOD users and not, as hoped, the entire Android ecosystem (there are third-party apps for that), this is one of the best first steps towards a frictionless unified messaging platform that could reproduce some of iMessage’s magic.
Dutta shared on Google+:
One of the interesting developments of the past couple weeks is that iMessage, is not snoopable by a third party, not even Apple (or so they would have you believe. Regardless of whether that is true; I love the design philosophy of iMessage: it works transparently, and encrypts the user’s message between iOS users and fails over to SMS as needed. Frictionless.
I’d thrown a poll out there, to see what sort of cohesiveness CyanogenMod users have. Surprisingly high. Many CyanogenMod text a lot with other CyanogenMod users.
(Which makes sense, as our growth to 7M users is entirely organic and word of mouth).
Anyways, TL;DR. I’ve built out a secure/push based messaging plugin for CyanogenMod. Messages between two CyanogenMod users will be encrypted end to end and sent over GCM. It’s built into the framework; so it works transparently, even with third party apps. (This is actually one of the cooler points IMO, and I do a lot of testing with GoSMS, etc).
As stated, one of the most interesting aspects of the integration is that the backend service will detect that you’re messaging a CyanogenMOD user and act accordingly, regardless of whether you’re using the stock messaging app (of which there are many, depending on manufacturer) or a third-party client.
No word on whether file/photo/location sharing or group messaging will be possible, but I’m very excited to see how this develops.
CyanogenMOD 10.1.0 went stable in the last few days, and Privacy Guard was just added to nightly versions of the software.