Mobile

Apple reportedly ‘clueless’ about how to fix iMessage purgatory

Image Credit: MarkKoeber

iMessages don’t always reach their intended target.

If you switch from an iPhone to another smartphone, you may get stuck in “iMessage purgatory.” That’s exactly what happened to Adam Pash, a former Lifehacker editor, who recently switched to an Android device. He now faces an issue where iPhone-touting friends try to text his new number, only to have their texts convert into iMessages, register as ‘Delivered’, and effectively disappear (without showing up on his new phone).

After calling Apple tech support from a friend’s iPhone — it costs $20 if you don’t have a device with an active support plan — Pash reached an Apple rep, who explained:

1. This is a problem a lot of people are facing.
2. The engineering team is working on it but is apparently clueless as to how to fix it.
3. There are no reliable solutions right now — for some people the standard fixes work immediately; many others are in the same boat as Pash.

Apple’s proposed solution is highly impractical: The rep suggested asking his contacts to delete and re-add his phone number to their address books, selecting ‘Mobile’ rather than ‘iPhone’ in the telephone number field. (She didn’t say Apple could or would manually deregister Pash’s phone number from Apple’s servers, which seems like an easy fix on Apple’s end.)


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This issue has frustrated old iPhone owners for at least a year. If you turn iMessages off before buying a new device, that should preemptively solve the problem.

Apple did not immediately respond to VentureBeat’s request for comment on the matter.

This isn’t the only time Apple has faced iMessage issues: When the tech giant released its iOS 7 operating system, a bug wreaked havoc on iPhone owners, piping iMessages to incorrect contacts or showing them as delivered when they remained unsent.

iMessage lets iOS and Mac users send free text chats to each other, and it converts those chats into texts for users on other mobile devices.

If you can’t reach a friend via iMessage, you can always disable the service while you wait for Apple’s official fix.

More information:

Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

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8 comments
Brad Alexander
Brad Alexander

Now, I know many people have said they tried the work arounds and they didn't work. I can't really say much to that because the work arounds have worked for others.

I do know one other work around I have seen posted anywhere yet. Most people don't know this, but you can force your iPhone to send SMS instead of it automatically sending an iMessage. If you go to a contact that formally had an iPhone and iMessage and the send button is BLUE. Press and hold the send button until there is a ripple animation and the button turns GREEN. Do that will make the phone send SMS to that particular contact instead of an iMessage.

Kirt Liedahl
Kirt Liedahl

If I miss them, I catch them on my Mac...

Micheal Justin
Micheal Justin

Agreed, I'm surprised the carriers haven't went after Apple for this since it makes them look bad to users who don't know Apple is actually causing this.

Stefan Caliaro
Stefan Caliaro

Yeah, I switched my iMessage off after I had my SIM removed from my 3GS, worked like a charm going to an S4... but it was weird in those first few days, as I had iMessages coming over WiFi to my 3GS.

Eddie 'Lilfoot' Yoo
Eddie 'Lilfoot' Yoo

Nope. Trust me, I did this before I switched officially, and it's still fucked up. I had to call Apple twice to get it fixed. At least the iMessages don't send to me now, but they still can't fix the fact that sender devices still think I'm on an iPhone.