When my best friend upgraded from an iPhone 4S to a Galaxy S4, I texted her hello. Unfortunately, she didn’t get that text, nor any of the five I sent in the following three days. My iPhone didn’t realize she was now an Android user and sent all my texts via iMessage. It wasn’t until she called me about going to brunch that I realized she wasn’t getting my text messages.
What I thought was just a minor bug is actually a much larger problem. One that, apparently, Apple has no idea how to fix.
According to former Lifehacker editor-in-chief Adam Pash, when he complained about the phantom iMessage issue, Apple said that while the company is aware of the situation, it’s not sure how to solve it. An Apple support person told Pash:
- This is a problem a lot of people are facing.
- The engineering team is working on it but is apparently clueless as to how to fix it.
- There are no reliable solutions right now — for some people the standard fixes work immediately; many others are in my boat.
Both Apple and Android users have suffered this glitch. While some miraculously figure out how to fix it—I was able to text my friend properly after a couple of days and turning iMessage on and off a few times—others, like Pash, are still stuck. (So, presumably, are at least some of my friend’s other iPhone-using contacts, at least unless they were all lucky enough to fix iMessage the same way I did.)
A lengthy thread about the issue on Apple’s support forum has attracted more than 400 replies since it began last June. The “standard fix” Apple suggests—that is, turning off iMessage on all your Apple devices and disassociating your phone number from your Apple ID—doesn’t always work.
It rankles users that Apple knows what is going on but has yet come up with a solution. The company has already identified and patched a slew of bugs since the release of iOS7, including major security vulnerabilities, but has yet to fix this iMessage flaw.
There isn’t anything users can do right now besides expect an error when you or a friend switches from an iDevice to Android. We’re all stuck in the same mobile vortex, where iMessages go to die.
I’ve asked Apple for comment, and will update if and when they get back to me.
Image by Kārlis Dambrāns on Flickr