When it comes to people that love iPhones, the iOS ecosystem is a relatively pleasant place to be. However, a nasty bug involving iMessage has lead to a lot of headaches for people that want to leave the iOS ecosystem.
The problem stems with how the iMessage text messaging service is setup. iMessage allows iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users to send text messages to each other for free using iMessage servers, effectively bypassing a user’s wireless carrier (this was much more of “bonus” for iOS users before carriers switched overwhelmingly to unlimited texting plans).
For the most part, switching between iMessage and regular SMS/MMS messages within the iOS messaging app on an iPhone is a relatively straightforward affair — iOS automatically recognizes when the person you are sending a text to is also using iOS and automatically routes it through the iMessage servers (iMessages show up blue in the Messages app). If the person on the receiving end of your text has a phone that doesn’t run iOS, it falls back to the standard SMS/MMS routine (SMS/MMS messages show up green in the Messages app).
However, the glitch comes into play when a user decides to ditch his or her iPhone and move to a competing platform (i.e. Android or Windows Phone). Many people have found that Apple doesn’t disassociate a user’s phone number from the iMessage server. That means that a person who decides to switch from say, an iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy S5 will no longer receive text messages from contacts with iOS devices – the iMessage server in effect “hijacks” the text messages and doesn’t hand them off via SMS/MMS.
The issue has been present since 2011 and has affected numerous people. Apple has offered up a number of resolutions over the years, but there has never been a permanent fix that solved all users’ problems regarding leaving the iOS ecosystem for a competing device.
But according to the folks at Re/code, Apple is working to resolve the issue altogether in a future update:
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.
Mac Rumors opines that Apple will permanently fix the glitch (along with an email attachment encryption bug) with an iOS 7.1.2 update, as the site has been tracking devices running the operating system.
Apple is also currently the subject of a lawsuit regarding the iMessage issue.
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