How to fix intermittent iMessage and FaceTime activation issues

iMessage for Mac (undelivered messages 001)

Judging by a growing thread on Apple’s support forums, an unknown portion of people seem to be experiencing issues activating FaceTime and/or iMessage after upgrading their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to iOS 7. On top of that, some of  those who’ve successfully activated the services complain about not being able to send or receive messages, iMessage not falling back to SMS, being able to receive messages but not media and more.

Turns out a few remedies exist to help fix these woes so I’ve included them for your convenience right after the break…

One user wrote:

After downloading the new ios7 to my iphone4s I’ve been unable to send iMessages to other people. I am able to receive iMessages however cannot respond to them via iMessage. It continues to tell me that it is sending but never sends. I end up having to change the message to SMS and then send instead.

This is exactly what I experienced during an exchange with Sebastien the other day.

Aside from the now regular iMessage outages, most of the aforementioned issues can be traced back to iMessage/FaceTime activation errors, with the device getting stuck on “Waiting for activation…” or saying “An error occurred during activation. Try again.”

For starters, check whether your Apple ID and/or cell phone number is configured properly in Settings > Messages > iMessage and Settings > FaceTime.

If things look good there, you can try solve the hiccups by either disabling/re-enabling each service or resetting your device’s network settings.

Turn off and re-enable iMessage/FaceTime

Go to Settings > Messages > iMessage and flip the iMessage switch to OFF. Likewise, go to Settings > FaceTime to disable the service. You should wait a few seconds (preferably about a minute) before re-enabling both iMessage and FaceTime.

Now try sending an iMessage again to yourself and call a FaceTime-enabled contact to see whether this method has managed to kill the pesky service activation prompts.

Reset your network settings

This is easy.

Go to Settings > General > Reset and tap the Reset Network Settings button. A prompt will pop up asking you to confirm the process. You’ll have to enter your passcode, if any, to proceed. Note that resetting network settings also wipes out your saved Wi-Fi passwords, meaning you’ll have to re-enter them later.

If neither solution works, OSXDaily suggests the following:

You can also try resetting the device to defaults, setting it up as new, activate iMessage and FaceTime through your Apple ID, then restore from a backup once you have confirmed it works – we have received an email from a user stating that particular sequence to be effective when everything else didn’t work.

Of course, setting an iOS device as new is a nuclear option and as such should only be used as a last resort option, in case all other tricks have failed. You really should create a full backup beforehand so you can restore to it should things go haywire.

This Apple support document explains how to back up and restore from a backup. Note that backups do not contain content synced to the device – such as movies, music, podcasts and apps – which shouldn’t be a problem because all of that is kept in iTunes on your computer.

Oh, and restarting your device might also do the trick.

Attempting to enable iMessage/FaceTime with a temporary Apple ID created for testing purposes won’t hurt either.

If you have other suggestions, we’re all ears.