When someone switches to a new phone, they have a reasonable expectation that all the network functionality that worked on their old device—things like messages and phone calls—will continue to work on their new device. Unfortunately for some iOS users who switched to Android devices, Apple’s iMessage blocked them from receiving any more messages from iOS users. The Cupertino company will be heading to federal court over the issue.
U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh decided that Apple will have to face former iPhone owner Adrienne Moore, who’s seeking judgement in a class-action lawsuit against Apple for interfering with her Verizon service after switching to an Android phone. Moore claims that Apple failed to reveal iOS 5 could interrupt the delivery of messages from other iOS users if she switched to a non-Apple device. Numerous people on Apple’s support forums share similar woes.
In court papers, Apple posits it never promised iMessages or Messages would recognize when a user switched to a different operating system. “Apple takes customer satisfaction extremely seriously, but the law does not provide a remedy when, as here, technology simply does not function as plaintiff subjectively believes it should,” the company says.
This isn’t the first time iOS users have had troubling iMessage issues beyond bothersome system outages. In the past, unlucky iPhone owners whose phones were stolen discovered their iMessages continued to be sent and delivered on their stolen device despite the de-activation of the old phone and re-activation on a new phone. While Apple seems to have resolved issues and expanded messaging functionality across its own platform, there are still problems if you try to switch from Apple to non-Apple hardware.
These problems stem from the fact that iMessage service is tied not just to your Apple ID but also your phone number, and operates over your data connection rather than your carrier’s cellular network (unless the platform detects a temporary lapse in data connectivity). Because of this, if you don’t actively switch off iMessage before heading to another OS like Android or Windows Phone, other iOS users’ handsets still think you’re using the service, and their messages will continue to be delivered over data connections as iMessages. Because your new device can only see messages sent over SMS, those iMessages end up lost in the ether rather than in your messages folder. It’s a problem that goes beyond inconvenience—the perception of unresponsiveness has cost some former iOS users time, money, and respect professionally.
Apple has since established a support page outlining how to avoid the issue by de-registering iMessage on your handset before switching to a new phone, and offering a de-registering process using your phone number. Past fixes, which had mixed results, included deleting and then re-adding iPhone contacts.
Users that stick exclusively with text messages (Settings > Messages > toggle iMessage off) or use a third party messaging platform like Kik or WhatsApp should not experience issues if they hop from OS to OS with new handsets.