It took many months of cries from all around the internet—and a particularly large groan from an ex-Lifehacker editor-in-chief—but Apple has not only acknowledged the existence of its iMessage problem, it's promising a fix.
Update: Apple has finally fixed the issue by creating an iMessage de-registration system—see "Update" section below for details.
Seemingly, if you switched from an iPhone to an Android device (or even BlackBerry or Windows Phone), you weren't getting your text messages. Apple's iMessage system all but crippled a user's ability to effectively communicate with their contacts, and in an age where texting trumps calling someone every time—it's totally ridiculous.
When switching to a competing mobile platform, but keeping your same number (porting), many former iPhone users noticed a sudden bout of unpopularity. The problem is, when iPhone users enable iMessage for their messaging, they effectively lock themselves in to Apple's proprietary system.
This is fine for messaging on an iPhone—everything is routed through Apple's servers rather than through your carrier's network, similar to Hangouts and WhatsApp.
When sending iMessages from iOS device to iOS device (or even a Mac), the messages are sent faster, as they going through Apple's servers. When sending from an iOS device to a non-Apple device, those messages go to Apple's servers, and then are routed to carrier data to reach its destination.
Received messages work in similar fashion; with iMessage enabled, all your messages, from iOS and non-iOS senders alike, are routed through Apple. Herein lies the issue.
If you switch to a non-iOS platform, but do not disable iMessage completely—meaning from an iPad, Mac, or other connected Apple device—your messages are still going through Apple's server. Only now, because you switched away from an iOS device, those servers have no idea where to send your message, meaning that you won't receive it.
Well, it took about five months, but Apple has finally created a service for de-registering your phone number from its iMessage system.
Simply head to their official page and enter your phone number. You'll be sent a verification code—enter that in and your phone number will no longer be associated with iMessage.
Apple's previous surefire solution was a fairly ridiculous one—have your contacts delete you, then re-add you. Or, as Adam Pash did, have your contacts open their Message settings, disable iMessage, send you a text (which will now be routed through SMS), then flip iMessage back on.
Again, every contact you have would have to do this.
Others solutions included resetting your Apple ID password, logging out of Messages and FaceTime on all Apple devices, and removing the abandoned iPhone from your Device Profile—but for these methods to be effective, they needed to be done prior to activating your number on the new device.
If you've already switched, sorry. If you traded in your old iPhone when you purchased your new device, then you're even more out of luck.
Finally, there's the "wait 90 days" approach, where iMessage will "time out" after 90 days and turn itself off, but that's a mighty long time to be without reliable text messaging service. For most, if not all of us, this is a completely bullshit solution.
The more cynical amongst us, myself included, posit that there is no reason for Apple to rush to implement a real fix to this problem. For many, the blame was dealt to their new smartphone. For others, it didn't matter to whom the blame fell, they just needed a working messaging platform, and switched back over to an iOS device.
But now, the chorus of "boos" is ringing down hard on Apple, with a class action lawsuit in the works. The suit claims that Apple "failed to disclose that switching to a device other than one running on Apple's iOS operating system would result in the interference" and is based on "contractual interference and unfair competition laws."
While the company is aware of the issue, and even has a not-so-helpful support page, it wasn't until a seperate iMessage bug surfaced that an official fix was teased by Apple, and reported by Re/code:
"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."
Well, some news is better than no news, and thankfully these issues should now be totally cleared up with their new deregistering tool online for iMessage. Too bad it too them over 5 months to actually do something about it.
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