2013-07-15

Co.Labs

I Switched From iPhone To Android And Now I Can't Get Texts

Your first days without an iPhone are eerily quiet, as you begin to realize all your friends with iPhones are suddenly incommunicado. Hint: Apple is hijacking their messages into the ether, leaving you out in the cold. Herein lies a rant about the most inconsiderate, annoying, and subversive iPhone flaw that Apple needs to address in iOS 7.



So you had an iPhone and now it's gone—broken, lost, sold, history. Coincidentally around the same time you activate your new non-Apple phone, you notice your iPhone-wielding friends have lost total interest in talking to you. It's not their fault—it's Apple's.

You see, you didn't realize you were never texting these people in the traditional sense: You were iMessaging them. And now that you've left the Apple ecosystem, the chain of communication has been broken, and you can't seem to figure out how to fix it.

That’s because iMessage is different than texting in one major way—it doesn't actually send its message over the same SMS infrastructure that texting does. Instead, iMessage is more like Gchat—it works over your 3G/4G connection—and it hijacks your text messages before they go out over traditional SMS. When you get your new iPhone and start texting, you notice that with Apple-owning friends your messages appear in blue. That's how you know you're iMessaging. When service is bad, or you talk to an Android or dumbphone user, you'll notice your message bubbles revert back to Green—normal text messages.

Here's the problem: When you stop using your iPhone, iMessages continue to be delivered over iMessage—they don't revert to SMS automatically, just because your iPhone is off, broken or deactivated.

This has been a problem since at least a year ago, and searching the web will net you any number of hapless iPhone owners on messageboards far and wide, trying to figure out where their messages are going.

How To Stop Apple From Hijacking Your Texts

One solution is to delete the old device via your Apple support profile. But for most people who have their Mac nearby, there’s a quicker solution: Open the Messages app in OS X, find the account settings, and uncheck your phone number from the active handles on your account.

If you don’t open Messages often, doing so will result in a cascade of missing texts—these are messages that haven't been getting delivered to your non-iPhone, but have ended up on your iMessage-enabled Mac, otherwise the last place you’d go to receive a text. Now the lightbulb should go off. Perhaps you get a little pissed. 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.

As soon as you begin using your iPhone, Apple automatically activates iMessage without your asking. What it's actually doing, in effect, is signing you up for a de facto messaging service where your phone number is your handle. When two iMessage users text each other, Apple makes the connection and hijacks the conversation into iMessage and out of the nominal SMS protocol. They do this to enable fancy features like read receipts.

I've spoken with more than a few friends who got zero help from tech support (both Apple and carrier) with this "feature." It’s been happening so long that there doesn’t seem to be any intention on Apple’s behalf to fix it. This is a jerk move, even more so for the company that makes products that are supposed to be user-friendly.

After running into this issue myself a couple months ago, I've run into dozens of people griping about the same problem. To Apple's credit, so few people ever switch away from iPhones that this problem won’t affect most users. Let’s hope in iOS 7 Apple isn’t so greedy.

[Image: Flickr user Judit Klein]




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50 Comments

  • Sloan Wright

    If you just want to get the contacts and calendars from your old phone, I suggest you to have a Google account. But if you switched by Google sync and then find something wrong with it, maybe you can try a transfer tool. As a transfer tool, Mobile Transfer is allow you to move data between phones such as iPhone, Android, Symbian and BlackBerry. With this program you just need two USB cables and PC to help you. I think it is the most convenient way. Here is the user guide of how to transfer SMS from iPhone to Android.

    (http://www.android-recovery.net/transfer-iphone-sms-to-android.html)

  • Cispa Thrasher

    If it makes you feel better, and it should, I switched to Android because of this exact problem. One less iPhone sale purely on principal.

  • Jae Joong

    There are 3 methods tell you how to recover deleted imessages from iphone(http://iphone-data-eraser.com/recovery/iphone-imessage-recovery.html). And specific steps are as follow.You can try iPhone Data Recovery(http://www.iphone-data-eraser.com/iphone-data-recovery.html) as below. Way 1: Recover Deleted iMessage Directly from iPhone Step 1 Connect your Device and Choose the Recovery Mode Step 2 Enter DFU Mode and Scan for Deleted iMessage Step 3 Preview and Recover lost iMessage

    Way 2: Restore Deleted iMessage from iTunes Backup Step 1 Select the Recovery Mode Step 2 Scan the Backup File Step 3 Check and Recover Deleted iMessage

    Way 3: Recover Deleted iMessage from iCloud Backup Step 1 Download Your Backup from iCloud Account Step 2 Scan the Backup File Step 3 Check and Recover Deleted iMessage

  • Kelly Davis

    Ok... After hours of support calls and doing everything suggested in this article, here is the fix and it's really just stupidly simple!! Tell your iphone friends to go into their message settings, tap imessage, and turn on the feature that says "send as sms if imessage is unavilable.

  • Alex Levin

    I had the same problem and spent a whole day trying to fix it. There is actually a site with good instructions: I had the same exact problem. Found this page which explains exactly what to do: http://switchiphone.com

  • Steve Hird

    This is exactly what you need to do, huge thanks for the top tip! I went in, deactivated my Iphone 4s and removed my number in the account settings on the left to ( no number) , I upgraded from iphone to Samsung Note 3 and had the issue same as above. Now it should be resolved.

    Massive thanks

  • Jose Castro

    Wow Fucking Apple!! This pissed me off!! I traded in my iphone at T-moble so I had no way to deactivate my number using the phone. I logged in to my apple ID profile and looked under products and only my macbook was listed not my iphone. So then I thought okay its still sending them because the imessage feature is still active on my macbook pro. I turned the feature off and i still was not getting shit!! After searching through numerous articles and forums "3 hrs total to be exact" I finally found a solution! Change the password of your apple ID! Once you do this it will disconnect your phone number from apple servers until you login using the iphone, which i no longer have! After doing this i was able to receive all the messages on my SAMSUNG NOTE 3 WHICH IS AWESOME! Fucking apple ! I work for HP as a field server technician and it took me this long I dont know how the average user would ever figure this out. Good Luck Guys

  • steve detwiler

    Make sure you have imessage turned off on all your devices that use the same apple id. took me a good day to figure this out. hope this helps someone out there,

  • steve

    I work for AT&Ts tech sup for iphone. It isnt that we dont want to help...we dont have the ability to stop this remotely. It is all on apples end

  • __ANSWER__If_U_STILL_HVE_IFON

    No worries. This is for people that still have access to their old phone.

    I switched from iphone 4 to samsung note 3, found i wasn't receiving texts from iphone users, backed up my old iphone, tried the deactivation method through apple online support, didn't work, then called apple, agreed to pay $20 for support (which they didn't charge me) told me to login to icloud.com and deactivate AND erase my device. Was surprised to even still see it there as I had already "deactivated" it through my apple id login. Now, done and done.

  • Greg Dwyer

    YES!!!!!!! I spent more than four hours doing all sorts of things, but this advice finally solved the issue. I will NEVER touch another APPLE product if it has to be networked. Thank you Chris!!!! (In short, I removed my iphone and ipod from itunes, change my itunes password, then went to icloud to ensure that no devices were there.)

  • Eric Glasser

    I recently switched from an iPhone 5 running ios7 to the nexus 5. I ended up having to disable iMessages on all 5 of my apple products manually, have AT&T change my IMEI on record, and Apple support had to still manually remove my number from the system.

    Now finally when people try and send me texts form their iPhone it is not sending a phantom iMessage. The issue is they are getting "not delivered" probably because of the option in settings to send an SMS is iMessages fails. Therefore I still have not found a solution and people with iPhones still can't text me.

    The problem here is that iMessages forces the user's hand in a way that the average consumer is not aware of what they are using. So trying to tell all my friends to fix something in their settings will probably end up futile. At this point it feels easier to change my number then fix this issue. All I know is that at this point if I am somehow able to free my number from the grips of Apple I won't ever be able to switch back in fear of this happening again.

  • Elise

    I like this article. I'm the kind of person who has a broken iPhone and no other way to turn of iMessage than on the support site or in iMessage itself. Neither have worked so far.
    This situation is rather binding. Though I do not want to stay with apple cellular products anymore, I feel like I am forced to due to this problem. Like that clingy ex that won't just let go.
    I'd really like to see what others did in my situation because I'm getting desperate.

  • Paula Peck

    Yup. Went from iPhone to Apple yesterday and couldn't figure out why no one with iPhone could text me. Apple is such a BS company, I will never spend any money on Apple again. Followed your advice, still not getting texts, although some say it takes 1-2 hours after being unregistered.

  • kymberlia

    I just made the switch from iPhone to Android, and this started happening to me. I unregistered the phone and it is still happening! so I have now deleted the attached phone number with the profile and hope that helps. As a continuing iPad user, I am super passed at Apple.

  • Jenni

    This isn't a bogus article. I'm sure many people have stumbled upon this page because they are trying to figure out how to get their messages. My best friend is getting married today and she is on an iPhone and of course I can't get any messages from her. I returned my iPhone because I was unhappy with it (The first impression I had from the iPhone was the new iOS 7...) so these fixes won't work for me, but it definitely IS a problem and not just a user error.

  • Sarah Devine

    My Iphone was stolen and I switched back to droid, the only thing I could do to fix it was this article half way down when it says how to proceed without access to your device!
    http://www.samsung.com/us/supp...

    Got on my friend's mac, opened I messaging App and signed in using my apple ID, then disabled it under accounts.
    After this I had to change my password and DID NOT LOG BACK IN TO IMESSAGE or it will enable it all again.

    as far as I can tell it's fixed!

  • Mark Hayden

    Hi Chris,

    You said "Let’s hope in iOS 7 Apple isn’t so greedy.".  Well I can confirm that your hope has been dashed.  We have switched from an iOS 7 device to a Galaxy Note III and the bug persists.  Nobody tells you (Apple or your carrier) what you have to do to get out of the iMessage trap until you have been caught in it.

    This is 100% Apple's fault and is probably a bug left in by design to deliberately frustrate people who want to try non-Apple products.  Apple really should be taken to task for this--it is the same kind of behaviour Microsoft engaged in during the late 1990s/early 2000s that got them hauled in front of the DoJ.  That won't happen here (and probably shouldn't); Apple does not have a monopoly in the mobile market the way MSFT had in PCs back then.  But it is frustrating that Apple seems to get such a free ride for some shoddy (and sometimes unethical) work.