iOS holding my phone number hostage = the worst bug I've ever experienced
Two months ago I switched from iPhone to Android. I’ve been a huge iOS fan since the first day, but just couldn’t deal with iOS7 (although that’s topic for another post).
I got a Verizon MotoX and couldn’t be happier. I could switch pretty much every app I used and was up and running w/ Android as my primary phone, fully loaded, within 24 hours.
But something really strange happened. I noticed I wasn’t getting text messages from lots of people. I was getting annoyed at them for not responding and they were getting annoyed that I wasn’t responding.
What happened? My work laptop was still configured with Messages.app so all their messages were still sending as iMessage. They were showing up on my work laptop, but not my phone.
This was pretty annoying, but understandable. Monday I went to the office, turned off iMessage, and thought everything would be fine.
Everything is very far from fine.
Here we are 8 weeks later and this is my current situation:
- If a friend on iOS (which is 99% of my friends) sends me a message, it first tries to send as iMessage and fails. The more tech savvy folks then get the option to “Resend as Text Message” and it will get through. This is pretty annoying for them, but not catastrophic.
- If a friend sends a group message and includes me, it will send as Group iMessage, not Group MMS, and I don’t receive it. And here’s the icing on the cake: it fails silently! They don’t get a “failed” notification. The message is just dropped in the ether. I never get it, and they don’t know that it failed.
Apple has tried very hard to help with this problem. Unfortunately their solution is TELL EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOUR FRIENDS TO DELETE EVERY SINGLE MESSAGE THREAD THAT YOU HAVE EVER BEEN ON.
Let me recap: I no longer have iPhone. My phone number isn’t associated with Apple, iCloud, iMessage, or FaceTime any more. But every single iOS device I have ever messaged in the past 5 years has my phone number cached! Every single phone will only try to message me via iMessage, not SMS. And to make matters worse, it fails SILENTLY!
To add insult to injury, the vast majority of messaging I’ve done in the past 3 years are group messages with pictures of our children. It would be bad enough if *I* had to delete 5 years of messaging history. But to ask my wife, my sister, my best friends, and literally every person I know to delete THEIR message histories? You’ve got to be kidding me!
I feel completely hostage. They have no solution and it’s insane that Apple has my phone number held hostage with no way to get it back.
- Apple Customer Support has tried very hard to help me, and everyone I’ve interacted with has been fantastic. Super friendly, and for a user who just left iOS for Android at that!
- Gotta love the irony that the founder and CTO of a hugely successful text messaging company can’t get text messages ;)
Updates/Responses to Hacker News
- Yes, I’ve reset/deactivated/cancelled everything possible. iCloud, iMessage, FaceTime, etc. on every device and on Apple’s web sites
- I’ve even had Apple support revoke my certificates so I couldn’t authenticate if I tried!
- Apple engineers confirmed there is no record of my number server-side. It’s a client side cache issue on every other person’s handset
- And no, changing my phone number of 15 years is not a very good solution.
- When I say “I’ve ever experienced”, I mean it. The experience of messages failing silently is awful. For example, my sister messaged me to tell me she was having a baby girl. I had no idea for days, and didn’t even know to congratulate her!
It’s been about 4 months or so since I switched.
Nothing I was able to do or Apple was able to do fixed the problem. I was able to put Messages into debug mode and I sent Apple a full debug log (Apple bug report #15966535). They marked the ticket as “Duplicate” and I was no longer able to view any updates.
After about 3 months, most of the issue has resolved.
The majority of group-texts work now; iPhones now send the whole thread is MMS not iMessage. It’s still not 100% but pretty good.
Most of my friends can send SMS without failures, but quite a few still get “iMessage failed” and have to “resend as SMS”.
I’ve completely given up trying to fix the problem. Just hoping the remaining iOS devices resolve themselves at some point, or Apple fixes in next update.
<rant>Everyone thinks this is an Android problem that they can’t message me anymore. Really tough to explain to the world that it’s _their_ iPhone that’s buggy.</rant>