Apple clueless on iMessage purgatory syndrome

iMessage iOS 7

Apple’s iMessage platform is great for heavy texters. Integrated deeply into the bowels of the operating system, iMessage simply disappears so normals are completely oblivious to the fact they’re actually using the system. When you start typing a recipient’s name in the stock Messages app in iOS or OS X, iMessage checks with Apple to see if a person has iMessage enabled.

If so, the chat bubble turns blue to indicate that the message will be sent as an iMessage, thereby bypassing your carrier’s SMS service. Problems arise when you switch to another smartphone platform only to discover that your phone number has not been removed from your Apple ID.

As a result, this could turn your phone number into a black hole for text messages…

This in some instances, can lead to a so-called iMessage purgatory syndrome where you’re not receiving text messages from anyone with an iPhone because Apple’s servers continue to convert their text messages to iMessages because your existing phone number is still iMessage-capable in your Apple ID account.

The problem was reported by other folks before, but now Adam Pash has written about his experience with Apple’s support staff to whom he turned to help fix the issue.

I recently switched from an iPhone to Android, and discovered shortly thereafter that my phone number was still associated with iMessage, meaning that any time someone with an iPhone tried texting me, I’d receive nothing, and they’d get a “Delivered” receipt in their Messages app as though everything were working as expected.

After getting in touch with an Apple Care representative, Pash concluded that the iPhone maker is largely clueless as to how to fix this annoying issue. Apple did, however, acknowledge that it’s a problem a lot of people seem to be facing.

Pash relays the information provided by Apple Care:

  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 my boat.

What makes this particularly hard to stomach is that only Apple can fix this by making manual changes to your Apple ID.

“In the meantime, Apple has completely hijacked my text messaging and my phone number portability (portability between devices, not networks),” writes Pash.

The brute-force solution, according to an Apple representative, would be to contact every iPhone owner who has your phone number and ask them to remove you as a contact, which is just plain silly to begin with.

Lesson learned: remove your phone number from iMessage, manually disable the service in iOS Settings > Phone before selling your iPhone and pray for the best.

iOS 8 is said to bring several improvements to iMessage, including an optional feature to auto-delete conversation threads after a month or year. This should help save storage space because Apple’s stock Messages app is notorious for clogging up your device’s storage.

Jeff has put together an awesome iOS 7 Messages guide so check it out to get the most of iMessage and learn cool new tricks. You can also browse our archive of iMessage jailbreak tweaks and learn how to back up and restore Messages on a fresh iOS install.