Beeper is a really cool app idea (and name!).
The big idea is that it combines all your chat apps into one. I installed it on my Mac and iPhone and configured it to work with:
- Facebook Messenger
- Twitter/X DMs
All of them worked. But it supports even more than that! That’s pretty wild to me. It’s kinda surprising that any of these even have complete enough APIs that allow you to replicate the messaging experience outside of their own apps.
So I guess the expectation of Beeper is that you keep those old apps around, you just remove them from any prominent locations (remove them from your Dock, tuck them away in a folder, etc). Also turn off all their notifications so you aren’t getting doubles. Then you make Beeper your go-to for all messaging.
That’s a tall order!
- You have to trust that it works and gets/sends all your messages
- Then it has to come through on that trust without a doubt
I’ve been trying it for a few weeks and I think it’s delivered on that front pretty well.
I’m about to throw in the towel, though. I think they’ve done an admirable job with what I’m sure is an unbelievably complicated undertaking (and done it for free so far!) — there is just enough little things that leave me wanting to go back to my old ways.
- There are no notifications on Desktop. There are settings for them, I have them all turned on (mostly “Noisy”), but I get nothing. And no red-badge on the app icon has me missing timely messages.
- Not all person and group icons make it over. Like if I’m in a “named” group in iMessage, that icon doesn’t come over.
- The design feels a little unpolished. Nothing egregious, it just doesn’t feel great. Typographic inconsistencies, too much space here, too little there, too thin of icons in some areas, confusing hover states, unclear search behavior, etc.
- I feel like the origin app of the message still matters to me and it feels weird that it is almost hard to tell what app you’re talking on. I think I’d visually lean into the different apps looks rather than homogenizing it.
- While I have decent trust that the messages are working (except when we get alerts that some services are down, which is fairly regularly), I don’t yet have the trust that I’m getting all the features and behaviors that come with the original apps. Like will my Discord “Super Reactions” work? My custom emojis in Slack? Do group DMs on Twitter/X work (they never did in third party apps before, but sorta seem to now)? Can I report spam in a way that makes it back to the original app? How far back does search go?
- A big one is that while I think the experience for incoming messages is pretty workable, crafting new outgoing messages is less good. If I make a new message and type “Dave”, I mostly get a crapload of Twitter history, but not Dave on Discord, who I talk to all the time there, nor any Dave in my iMessage contacts which is almost more likely. I just think combining contacts for every single app is just a weird hard problem.
Just some quick thoughts!
Perhaps the very biggest hurdle, for me, is I’m not sure I have a problem with separate messaging apps in the first place. While it seems like it would be annoying to have so many, I don’t think I actually am that annoyed, which probably just makes me not the perfect customer.