After months of complaints from iPhone users stretching back to the last 18 months involving the loss of messages after moving away from Apple’s iMessage platform to other smartphones entirely, Apple has quietly launched a more convenient deregistration tool for those preparing to move to other smartphone platforms that will remove the phone number from the iMessage service and restores SMS messaging capability for a given number.
Previously, in order to remove a phone number from iMessage, a user first needed to disable iMesaage manually from any iOS devices tied to a phone number before switching devices, a process which was foreign to many users and obscured by the fact that Apple tied a users Apple ID to a given phone number when activating iMessage on an iPhone, which most affected users were unaware of and led to the increase in complaints over the past few months regarding lost messages that hit its peak during the summer months, as many that followed the older instructions to deactivate didn’t always recover the missing messages sent over iMessage or regain messaging capability.
This situation also led to increased call volume to Apple’s customer service hotlines where many customers were first made aware of the binding between a phone number and iMessage, with the customer service reps mainly serving as the deactivation tool before the release of the new automated web-based tool. Many former users are now reporting instant deactivation and some are reporting deactivation and message recovery within 24 hours with the new tool. As a result of the “iMessage blackhole” issue, Apple is also involved in a class action suit regarding the service and its handling of user messages when former users switched to other non-Apple smartphones.