Apple acknowledges iMessage flaw, promises fix

Apple acknowledges iMessage flaw, promises fix

Summary: Apple has formally acknowledged an iMessage bug that prevents former iOS users from receiving SMS messages on non-iOS devices, and has promised a fix in a fresh update.

TOPICS: Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Security

Apple has acknowledge an iMessage design flaw that prevents former iOS users from receiving SMS messages when they leave the ecosystem and forget to disable iMessage before doing so.

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 13.30.06

The iMessage problem is caused when iOS users switch over to a different ecosystem — such as Google's Android operating system — without turning the iMessage service off first. The problem stems from the ability of iMessage to send messages via Wi-Fi and Apple servers rather than as a standard SMS sent via a wireless carrier. It saves users network costs but causes the bug due to confusing miscommunication in the software if iMessage is left operational and a phone number is still recognized as linked to an iPhone.

Texts to these users from other devices are therefore never delivered, and are left floating in the iMessage cloud instead, as the iMessage protocol is still used for numbers no longer linked to an iPhone.

In a statement to Re/code, the iPad and iPhone maker commented:

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. For users still experiencing an issue, please contact AppleCare.

This is the company's first official response to the flaw, which has existed since iOS 5 when the messaging app was first rolled out. A fix was released after the launch of iOS 7, but the problem is still leaving users in "iMessage purgatory," according to comments made to former chief editor of Lifehacker Adam Pash by Apple support staff.

According to the publication, a recent server glitch made the problem worse, as AppleCare representatives were left unable to remedy the issue for customers impacted by the iMessage flaw.

The protocol problem has gone far enough to warrant legal action. This month at a Californian district court, Adrienne Moore claimed that Apple "interfered" with cellular contracts by preventing subscribers from receiving SMS messages, after Moore switched from an iPhone 4 to a Galaxy S5. Moore claims that Apple's message interception prevents users from enjoying a full wireless carrier service after they've made a switch from an iPhone to another device.

Topics: Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Security

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • How good of them.

    But it takes a lawsuit to get them to respond.
    Makes sense, due to their love of the courtroom...... ;)
  • Since iOS5 . . .

    I took that long to get 100 users that switched? I guess those big, ugly phones have little to sway users for iOS ease-of-use!
    • Big ugly phones... the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 phablet?
      • I haven't seen those yet

        Have you?
    • What?

      Anybody want to explain this comment to me?
  • No motivation for Apple to fix the issue....

    When users switched, they thought the issue was with their new phones. This is how Apple handles these things. They ignore them, or at least keep them quite, until it becomes a problem for them. They do the same thing with security issues. This issue took a lawsuit and bad press to get them to act.
    • but Apple is all about creating the best user experience... right?

      • Sorry, but user experience is related to any of that how?

        I do think Apple needs to do better with its security patch management, but I'd be hard pressed to identify what the related "user experience" issue is. Perhaps you can share the dots you connected there?
  • Affects voice mail too

    Since iPhones get "free" visual voice mail on Verizon, when you switch to a different phone you get no voice mail indicators whatsoever when a new one comes in. To alleviate I had to be escalated to tier2 support and switch to wholly new servers. No longer have access to my old VM but through a special number for the next 30 days. After that they're deleted.
  • More Apple arrogance

    "Why would anybody want to leave the ecosystem?"
    Now they made it worse by turning it into a public spectacle disclosing that *gasp* people really do leave iOS??
  • Remember folks: It Just Works!

  • Well done, Apple

    So Apple figured this was a feature rather than a bug, somehow? How do they go so long without fixing a bug that results in criminal behaviour?

    Intercepting a person's communications tends to be frowned upon in most countries, and the US seems to take the view that it's almost a capital offence. Unless you're government. Or large business.

    It's all about customer service, isn't it Apple? Or at least, about trying to sue competitors out of the market while using their technology.
  • imessage still a go nowhere ?

    So does this still leave multiple users under one apple ID still not able to use imessage; it's not that glitch fix ?
  • How about adding something more useful like Wifi-Calling...

    ...instead of wasting time tinkering with useless features. Who cares if iMessage is flawed, then turn the damn thing OFF and use regular texts, what's wrong? Apple's revenue would increase at $1B to $1.5B if they implement the feature.
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ...

    on departure make sure to get all your stuff packed and keep an eye on your luggage when checking out.
    Otherwise you'll find yourself at another place without baggage or socks.
    Same with iMessage...