Users whose phone numbers have been ‘held hostage’ by iMessage can now reclaim them with a new online tool!
Apple has released a new tool to free former iPhone users from iMessage, solving a problem that has annoyed switchers since the service was introduced three years ago.
A replacement for text-messaging that arrived with iOS 5, iMessage lets iPhone, iPad and Mac users send text messages to other iPhone owners over the net for free.
The service works by registering the user’s phone number (and email address) with Apple, and then diverting traditional SMS messages to the new protocol when sent between two compatible users.
iMessage can be turned off from an iPhone, but until now, users who had switched to a non-Apple device without remembering to disable it first struggled with undeliverable messages and no easy way to fix the problem.
If a user forgot to turn it off, Apple had no way to help. Benjamin Stein, one affected user, reported that Apple’s interim solution was to “tell every single one of your friends to delete every single message thread that you have ever been on … They have no solution and it’s insane that Apple has my phone number held hostage with no way to get it back.”
With the new tool, former users can visit Apple’s site and deregister. “You may need to turn off iMessage if you are now using a non-Apple phone and can’t get SMS or text messages someone sends you from an iPhone,” the company explains.
The tool has been well received, even if some questioned why it took so long for Apple to issue a fix. Blogger John Gruber wrote: “When they were designing the ‘use iMessage instead of SMS when texting from one iPhone to another’ feature, I don’t think it ever occurred to anyone at Apple that someone might eventually want to switch from iPhone to another phone.”
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