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COMMENT: You’re sending it wrong


When iMessage ruins your social life, it's time to get mad

On paper, Apple’s iMessage service looks like a good idea. It’s a more powerful replacement for text messaging which lets you send texts, photos and videos for free over Wi-Fi or 3G between any iOS 5 device, whether it’s an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

IMessage is even clever enough to detect when it receives a text message from a fellow iOS 5 device, and will mark that person as iMessage-capable in its contacts. While I was using an iPhone, this was all well and good; I would happily have iMessage conversations with other iPhone users, while sending and receiving normal texts from those with other phones.

The problem came when I swapped my SIM into a different phone. I realised after a few weeks that some of my friends weren’t replying to my texts. I thought I’d mortally offended them until I turned my iPhone back on, whereupon it suddenly received several messages from my estranged contacts.

It seems that once an iPhone thinks one of your contacts has iMessage, it doesn’t check again, and will continue sending iMessages instead of texts even if they have changed from an iPhone 4S to a Nokia 3210 and haven’t a hope of receiving them. The worst part, though, is that the sender doesn’t receive any failure notifications, so as far as they’re concerned you’re just discarding their messages like so much pointless junk.

Even if you realise what’s going on and let your contact know, there’s no way for them to turn off iMessaging just for you – they’d have to turn it off for all their contacts. I finally fixed it by putting the SIM back in my iPhone, turning on iMessage in Settings, turning on Airplane Mode, turning off iMessage again then finally turning off airplane mode. Once I put the SIM back in my other, non-Apple phone, I was finally able to receive texts from everyone again.

Apple – please don’t assume that just because I had an iPhone once I’ll have one till the end of time.

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