Apple has released a web-based tool over the weekend that previous iPhone users have had throughout the last few years. Finally, the company is addressing the “disappearing messages” issue that seems to plague former users of iPhones. The issue is one where essentially, the person who switched from an iPhone to an Android or Windows phone will go through a lag-period, where even if they turn off iMessage through the settings before the activate their new non-iPhone device, for a period of time that varies, messages sail into the technological abyss.
The messages will appear sent to the sender, and they will act like a normal iMessage, or message in general – but then, the recipient will never actually receive the message at all. For many, it is the worst-possible scenario. Apple was even sued by a group of unhappy former-iPhone users who said that simply turning off iMessage does not get the job done.
The process is done through a web app, and essentially it deregisters the device that is in question – thus removing any affiliation with phone numbers, or emails that might maintain the text message line open. In addition, it gives users the opportunity to confirm – via text message on their actual device – if they are trying to completely deactivate the messaging feature on an iPhone that is no longer in use, but still in possession of the former-owner.
It exposes a growing problem for users who switch back and forth between device types, and introduces a really interesting problem should Android ever pull a lot of iPhone users from the market. Potentially, millions of text messages could go lost, and valuable communication time be cut down if a viable solution is not reached. Moving forward it will be interesting to see not only how effectively this works for Apple, but also how many people actually take advantage of the program – which could give some interesting statistical numbers into the kind of defecting that could possibly be happening from iOS to Android.