Apple has acknowledged a bug in its iMessage system that causes standard text messages to be diverted to iMessages even after users stop using their iPhones. The problem occurs for some users who switch from an iPhone to Android or any other type of smartphone, which is not supported by iMessage. Other iPhone users continue to be defaulted to iMessage, which results in delivery failure.
Rather than detecting that messages should be sent as normal SMS texts, other iPhone users continue to see the intended recipient as an iPhone user. Messages sent from the person who switched are sent fine, but replies are often diverted through the iMessage system and thus never reach the original sender.
Apple has now made a statement to industry news website Recode, saying it is aware of the problem and that a server-side fix has already been applied, but more work is required. Users can manually turn off iMessage on their iPhones and disassociate their numbers via the Settings menu before changing devices, but there is no indication that this is necessary and many users will be unaware of how to do it.
According to Recode, at least one user in the United States is attempting to file a lawsuit against Apple, alleging that Apple's iMessage service is anticompetitive and interferes with wireless services.
The problem stems from Apple's inability to constantly update whether or not a device is set to receive texts as iMessages. iMessage is integrated with the iPhone SMS app and diverts text messages between iPhone users via its own Internet-based delivery system. The service also lives as a standalone app on other devices. Users may sign up with their phone numbers or email addresses, and only those who know which ID others use will be able to exchange messages, photos and videos via iMessage. iPhone users who sign in to iMessage with an email address on multiple devices might also find that friends' messages are being sent to those other devices as iMessages, but not to their new phones as SMSes.