Apple sued over disappearing iMessage texts sent to Android users

Apple faces a lawsuit over an iMessage bug barring texts from arriving on Android owners' handsets after they've disavowed iOS.

Nick Statt Former Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
Nick Statt
2 min read


Like a Kafkaesque nightmare for the Information Age, select former iPhone users who switch over to Google's Android mobile operating system have been suffering an iMessage fiasco without a fix -- keeping texts from arriving without notifying either party of the problem. Now, Apple has been slammed with a lawsuit over its negligence to address the issue, according to a report by Bloomberg on Friday.

The problem lies in iMessage, the service rolled out in 2011 with iOS 5 that lets iPhone users communicate with each over data and Wi-Fi instead of their respective telecom networks -- meaning faster messages that don't count toward your cell plan. Denoted only by a blue bubble around the text instead of a regular green one, iMessages were seen as a technical marvel for working seamlessly within the iPhone's native SMS client.

That is until you decide to jump ship from iOS and head over to Android, an OS now running around 80 percent of smartphones worldwide as of May 2014.

Since the 2011 rollout of iMessage, select former iPhone owners with their cell number tied up in iMessage have reported an interference in which texts sent from existing iPhone owners fall into a void where the sender thinks it was delivered and the newly minted owner of the Android handset never receives it. The issue appears to be on a device level, meaning each and every current iPhone user's device may think a new Android user is still using an Apple handset.

Not only is that text then lost forever -- wrapped up in the iMessage account of a deactivated iPhone -- but Apple has no concrete solution to prevent it from happening, an Apple tech support specialist told Adam Pash, former Lifehacker editor in chief. Pash reignited the debate around the issue Tuesday in a blog post on his personal website alleging that Apple is aware of the problem, but "is apparently clueless as how to fix it," the support specialist told him.

Apple declined to comment for this story.

The "iMessage purgatory" ordeal, as Pash called it, may come to a head as new Samsung owner Adrienne Moore filed a complaint yesterday in San Jose, Calif., claiming that Apple failed to disclose its knowledge of the problem.

Moore is seeking class action status for her suit -- meaning she is suing on behalf of a larger group and the outcome could trickle down to all affected iPhone owners, though the complaint did not specify damages.

Current fixes for the problem include deactivating iMessage in the settings panel of your iPhone before switching over the SIM card or phone number to a new Android phone -- though even that has proven ineffective for numerous affected iPhone owners. Other more cumbersome fixes involve having iPhone users in your address book delete your contact and re-add it, hopefully establishing a regular connection and wiping out the iMessage relationship between the two phone numbers.