It goes without saying that Google’s Chrome operating system lends itself much more to those of us who use Android smartphones. With the evolution of the in-built Chrome OS Phone Hub, the symbiotic relationship between Chromebook and Android phones has become near-seamless and it just keeps getting better. Phone Hub allows you to access your device’s notifications, reply to messages, view recent Chrome tabs, and more. You can silence your phone right from the shelf of your Chromebook and even use the locate phone feature to ring your device if you’ve misplaced it.
Soon, Android devices and Chromebooks will further blur the line between desktop and mobile. Thanks to the ongoing work around the project known as “Eche,” we will eventually have the ability to mirror applications directly to our Chromebooks in a free-standing window on the desktop. This is all great news if you’re an Android user but what about those that prefer an iPhone? Unfortunately, these integrations will likely never find themselves paired with an iOS device but that doesn’t mean that you’re left out to dry.
If you’re using third-party chat apps, you can always install the web version on your Chromebook and get your notifications via Chrome or a PWA. However, if you’re wanting to access your iMessage on Chrome OS, the answer isn’t that simple. As you are likely aware, Apple isn’t savvy to the idea of their in-house messaging app running on anything other than their own software platforms. For that reason, it is not possible to install iMessage on an Android or any other non-Apple OS. Thankfully, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
While you can’t install iMessage on a Chromebook, you can use the cloud-centric operating system to remotely access the messaging application. There are a couple of different methods to achieve this but today, we’ll be looking at a third-party application called AirMessage. AirMessage isn’t the only app out there that does this little trick but it’s the best one I’ve tested and the installation process is a breeze. Before we get started, there are a couple of prerequisites to make this work. They are few but they are 100% necessary.
Setting up AirMessage
First off, you will need a macOS device that is running macOS 10.10 Yosemite or newer. For my testing, I used a 2010 Macbook Pro that I updated to macOS El Capitan (macOS 10.11). You’ll also need an Android device that’s running Android 6.0 or newer but since we’re doing this on a Chromebook, that’s already covered. Last but not least, you’ll need an Apple ID to use with iMessage. If you’re reading this tutorial to use iMessage with your iPhone, you’re good. If you just want to try this out and don’t have an Apple ID, you can get one here for free and use it with iMessage on a desktop without a phone number attached.
Okay, let’s go. If you’re wondering why you need a macOS device, the answer is simple. Since we can’t install iMessage on a Chromebook, we need a “host” device to remote to in order to access iMessage. This can be done with Chrome Remote Desktop but that’s a bit of a heavier lift and somewhat overkill for this task. Instead, we’ll use the AirMessage app to act as our portal to the macOS host machine. In order to do this, you will need to install the AirMessage server application on your macOS machine. The server runs in the background and acts as a passthrough to and from your macOS device to the AirMessage app on your Android device. You can find the AirMessage macOS server application here. (Note: According to the website, AirMessage is compatible with the new Apple silicon.)
Once you’ve downloaded AirMessage server to your macOS device, double-click the file to initiate the setup process. You will be prompted to connect an account. You will want to use the same Google account that you use on your Chromebook to connect AirMessage. Once you’re connected, you can move on to the next steps. Since your macOS machine is acting as a server, you’ll want it set up to never sleep. You can let the display sleep but you’ll need to set the computer itself to stay away. You can do this by clicking the Apple icon at the top of the screen and clicking System Preferences. From there, select “Energy Saver” and set the “Computer Sleep” to never. Obviously, you can change these settings if you aren’t actively using AirMessage. That’s it for your Mac. We can now move on to your Chromebook.
iMessage on your Chromebook
Now that we have the host set up, we can install the interface used to send and receive iMessages on a Chromebook. AirMessage has a companion app available directly from the Google Play Store. You will need to have the Play Store enabled on your Chrome OS device and then, you can download AirMessage for Android here. Once it’s installed, you simply log in with the same Google account that you used on your mac and you’re all set. If all went as planned, you can now send and receive iMessages from the AirMessage app on your Chromebook and they will be relayed directly through iMessage on your macOS host device.
What if I don’t have the Play Store?
If you have an older Chromebook that doesn’t have Android apps or you’re like me and you just don’t like having the Play Store enabled, you’re in luck. AirMessage now offers a web-based version of the open-source platform. You can access your host server directly from a browser. AirMessage supports the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. Simply aim your browser to AirMessage Web and log in with our Google account. You can even install the web version as a PWA and pin it to your shelf with the rest of your apps!
But, I don’t have an iPhone
Maybe you’re a macOS user that doesn’t have an iPhone but likes using iMessage on your device. Perhaps you just want to try this out to see how it works. Whatever the case, we got you covered. Using iMessage doesn’t require having an iPhone or an attached phone number. Simply use your Apple ID to sign in to iMessage on your mac and you can send and receive with other iMessage users to your heart’s content.
That’s it! You now know how to get iMessage on your Chromebook. It’s not the most glamorous path but it works and it is one of the very few viable options out there because Apple is unlikely to ever go cross-platform. At least it gives me a reason to tinker, right? See you next time.
I just want the steps!
- Install AirMessage server on macOS device.
- Select Connect your Google Account.
- Adjust macOS sleep settings to “never”
- Install AirMessage Android app on your Chromebook
- Alternatively Use AirMessage on the Web