imessage

Apple

Mobile


Apple’s iMessage system is a model of convenience when connecting between iPhones. But trying to leave the ecosystem is the very definition of horror.

The Internet is filled with tales of frustration from those who have traded in their iPhone for an Android phone only to find their text messages trapped within Apple’s cloud. The issue arises when an iPhone customer trades in his or her phone for, say, a Galaxy S5, but keeps the same phone number that Apple’s messaging system recognizes as an iPhone.

A recent server glitch made the problem worse, rendering moot one of Apple’s key methods for trying to remedy the issue.

The iMessage problem is now the subject of legal action by a California woman seeking class-action status for a suit against Apple. She charges that Apple’s message-grabbing ways are depriving former customers of the ability to get full value from their wireless service after they give up their iPhone. The suit, filed last week, claims Apple’s actions violate California’s unfair competition law and also interfere with a wireless carrier’s abilities to deliver its promised service to consumers.

Apple declined to comment on the litigation. It is, however, well aware of the challenges customers have faced when seeking to exit the iMessage universe.

The issue dates back to 2011, when iMessage was introduced with Apple’s iOS 5 smartphone operating system.

iMessage relies on Apple’s messaging system to intercept a text message sent to another iOS device and re-routes it through its servers rather than sending it via the wireless carriers as a standard SMS or MMS message.

The benefits of iMessage include bypassing a wireless carrier’s text messaging charges, enabling the ability to tell when a message is read or delivered and to send a message simultaneously to all of one’s iOS and Mac devices. However, Apple’s system has proved problematic in that in order to work properly, it needs to have an accurate knowledge of which phone numbers are actually associated with iPhones.

And for those who leave, what was once a series of added features turns into a headache.

While it isn’t going into details on when or how the upcoming iOS release will improve things, Apple is certainly hoping to have a solution once that is in place.

Until then, users can avoid problems if they turn off iMessage on their iPhone and uncheck the phone numbers from any other Apple devices on which they are using iMessage before switching to a new non-Apple device. However, this requires some planning and still may not a guarantee a smooth transition.

Apple also has a means to try to remove users from its iMessage system after they have switched off their iPhones, but this process has a more spotty track record. The recent server bug worsened things significantly, leaving Apple’s support staff temporarily unable to use their standard methods for trying to deal with iMessage problems.

“We recently fixed a server-side iMessage bug which was causing an issue for some users, and we have an additional bug fix in a future software update,” Apple told Re/code in a statement. “For users still experiencing an issue, please contact AppleCare.”




6 comments
benjitek
benjitek

I don't think that an IM client (which iMessage is) should be intermingled with SMS/MMS functionality.  The native iOS 'Messages' app should be SMS/MMS, and there should be a separate iMessage app which uses your Apple ID, just like every other instant messaging app.

sleepd
sleepd

It's not that bad. it's a security certificate on the iMessaging server attached to your phone number. You changed phones, it thinks you aren't who you say you are any more. That's a GOOD thing that it checks. 


It shouldn't take a full 24 hours for Apple to propagate deauthentication, which is what it took for me. That's silly. 


Your messages to iPhone users go through. You just won't receive their replies until the update is finished. 


What's far worse? Not being able to send videos through plain old texting on Android thanks to 1mb limits imposed by carriers. And don't get started on video compression apps. Uggh!

MalcolmTucker
MalcolmTucker

A company that requires legal action to restore functionality it's product takes away isn't really a company worth doing business with. 


If Apple was in the car business, they wouldn't tell you what kind of oil to put in your car, or neglect to provide the information in a manual.

So, if "Apple Car Company" manufactured cars, and was in a bind for new ideas when their top designer quit, actions would likely lead you away from fixing the problem.   They'd rather sell you a new car, or pay for an engine replacement (more revenue) if your engine is filled with sludge. This seems to be Apple's business model.

In order to pull it off, "Apple Car Company" would need to have a culture of secrets, and fail to disclose the what kind of oil, even if it needs synthetic, to you. Later, they can sell you something more expensive. One of the benefits of buying a car is that it comes with a manual so you can adequately prepare and plan to avoid costly repairs. 

Remember, this is also the company that for a number of years, made a device made of glass.  They also told users in an on-stage presentation "Your Holding It Wrong", when Steve Jobs himself, at the unveiling, told people he couldn't get a signal to show features of the iPhone 4 until everyone turned off their WiFi hotspots.

Lawsuits are a good thing--
They show a company's negligence, and are a form of brand and product disclosure, similar to what a manual would normally do.  All you get with an Apple Computer product is a 5-page microprint "Terms Of Warranty" that takes an attorney to decipher that Apple doesn't really guarantee anything, and it's always subject to revision after the money is transferred.
With a feature like this, and the problem likely going on for years, (which they benefitted from) they guarantee a lawsuit is needed to fix their negligent behavior.  I wonder how many new cars "Apple Car Company" would have sold under this mode of business. 

Zathras
Zathras

Please, that lede was the very definition of hyperbole. Horror is what happens in the Ukrain, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Steve Ballmer lectures. Not a bug that is being fixed. The author is usually better than that.

JuanGuapo
JuanGuapo

The diffusion of talent at Apple is growing, not shrinking....

BayportBob
BayportBob

@JuanGuapo  - is that an indication of apple being the problem?  or is it an indication of free market, people leave for new horizons, retirement, burnout.  or is it an indication of where we are at?  really talented people not wishing to work for someone else when they can do so for themselves and make money and more personal satisfaction?  i am wondering at what your comment was really referring to.

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