Apple releases tool to make escaping iMessage purgatory easier

Former iPhone owners having troubles receiving SMS now have a much easier way to ensure that iMessage isn't to blame.

2014-11-10 12.48.29 pm
Image: Apple

Apple has released a tool that should remove the hoops people have had to go through to stop their SMS messages being trapped in iMessage after switching to Android.

The two-step Deregister iMessage tool reduces the difficulties some people had encountered when attempting to untangle their phone number from iMessage after moving a SIM card from an iPhone to, for example, an Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone handset. (Some of those challenges were laid out in Apple's user forums.)

The tool is particularly useful for anyone who no longer has access to their old iPhone, given that Apple's standard advice up to this point has been to deregister iMessage before switching platforms. If they didn't, there was a chance that messages sent from other iPhone users would continue to be sent to Apple's messaging servers and not to the SIM number.   

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Now, to deregister iMessage, the user simply sends Apple their current phone number via the tool. They'll then receive a six-digit confirmation code delivered by SMS to that number, which they plug into the tool.

Previously, Apple's advice was to deactivate iMessage before switching to a non-Apple phone. People who hadn't done that were told to re-insert the SIM card back into the iPhone and go through settings on the device to turn iMessage off. That worked for people who still had the iPhone, but if the device was no longer in their possession they would have to contact Apple support.

The tool should resolve some of the confusion Android users have faced after removing their SIM card from an iPhone, which was in part the result of suggestions by other users on how to do it.

There were several steps that do not deregister iMessage - many of them coming from frustrated former iPhone owners trying to solve the problem themselves, including Adam Pash, who detailed his difficulties escaping "iMessage purgatory" and suggestions to fix it.

Methods that don't do the job, according to Apple, include texting the word "STOP" to 48369 from a new Android or Windows Phone; logging into My Support Profile and changing a password or removing the phone number; and changing an Apple ID password.

Earlier this year Apple was sued by a former iPhone owner who complained that Apple had interfered with her contract with a mobile network provider. Apple later said it had fixed a server-side iMessage bug that should have resolved the issue.

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