WASHINGTON -- It's the digital equivalent of a dead-letter box -- notes sent using Apple's iMessage that never arrive.
Apple has been dealing with complaints from users who have been unable to receive text messages after they switch from an iPhone to an Android or Windows phone.
At the heart of the problem is Apple's proprietary iMessage service, which lets all iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users exchange text-like messages for free over Wi-Fi, says Gregg Stebben, of Men's Health.
"The problem arises when a phone number that's associated with an iOS device is then switched to another operating system," says Stebben. "When this switch happens, Apple's iMessage service still tries, unsuccessfully, to send any messages from other iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches to the phone number via iMessage."
However, the message doesn't realize that, and often goes undelivered, says Stebben.
"The phone number is no longer connected to an iOS device; therefore, it's unable to receive the message."
The glitch is the focus of a lawsuit filed in California, and reported by Bloomberg.
While Apple's website support pages include users complaining of funky iMessage behavior after switching carriers as early as 2011, Apple has now acknowledged the problem, telling Re/code: "We recently fixed a server-side iMessage bug which was causing an issue for some users, and we have an additional bug fix in a future software update."
Tips to avoid or fix iMessage bug
The easiest way to avoid iMessage problems is to take steps before switching from iPhone to another phone platform.
"Don't trade in your phone, wipe its memory, or even remove its SIM card before turning off iMessage on the device," writes the Wall Street Journal.
CNET describes how to disable iMessage before switching to another mobile platform, and suggests sending a normal text message to a friend to ensure that iMessage was switched off properly.
For those who have already sold or traded in an iPhone for another device, TechRepublic offers tips for how to reset your Apple ID password.
If all else fails, an Apple technician can manually de-register a phone number from the company's servers.
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