For years, Apple has said very little about persistent rumours that its iPhone text messaging system in some way discriminates against Android users, either by delivering messages to them late or not delivering them at all.
Now an Apple customer support employee has admitted to Lifehacker’s Adam Pash that, in fact, “a lot” of users have this problem: If you switch from an iPhone to an Android, iMessage won’t deliver texts from iPhone users to your new Android phone.
There is no fix in sight, Pash says he was told. (At Business Insider, I’ve had a version of this problem firsthand: My iPhone colleagues get my texts immediately; those on Android seem to get them later, up to a few minutes behind.)
The latter went so far as to allege, “Apple is punishing you for ditching your iPhone by cutting you off from your friends, and they want to make it feel like you need to be on an Apple device to talk to the people you care about.”
We spoke to Apple recently and it pointed us to this customer support page which instructs users how to turn off iMessage so that other iPhones don’t continue to try to deliver messages to your disused iMessage address.
The technical issue here is that iMessage is not the same as a regular mobile phone text. It’s a separate, different system. Texts get “stuck” briefly or permanently inside iMessage when they’re directed to someone who has switched their number to an Android phone because they’re trying to find your old, inactive iMessage address.
Apple’s customer support was initially useless when Pash called for help. Pash writes:
Apple Support: “Can you try deleting the contact from your new iPhone and re-adding it?”
Me: “I can’t tell everyone I know to delete and re-add me as a contact.”
Eventually, the service rep admitted there was a problem. Pash writes:
- This is a problem a lot of people are facing.
- The engineering team is working on it but is apparently clueless as to how to fix it.
- There are no reliable solutions right now — for some people the standard fixes work immediately; many others are in my boat.
This is, apparently, a key admission from Apple. Previously the company had advised people to actively switch off iMessage before disposing of their old iPhone in favour of an Android. Its help page hints at how long the Android text issue lasts, too:
If you want to transfer your SIM card or phone number to a device that doesn’t support iMessage
Go to Settings > Messages and turn off iMessage if you plan to transfer your SIM card or phone number from an iPhone to a device that doesn’t support iMessage. If you don’t, other iOS devices might continue to try to send you messages using iMessage, instead of using SMS or MMS, for up to 45 days.
We asked Apple for further comment but did not immediately get a response.
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