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Apple iMessage Bug Spawns Deregistration Tool, Class Action Lawsuit

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By William Peacock, Esq. on November 12, 2014 8:14 AM

Apple has long-since had an issue with its messaging service not playing nicely with Androids and other smartphones. I noticed the issue when I ditched my badly aging iPhone 3GS for a Google Nexus 4 a few years ago -- texts would be lost in the vapors, especially group text messages.

It turns out I wasn't alone: iMessage, which routes text messages though Apple's service, was intercepting text messages from fellow Apple users, even after users switched to Android. For a while, the problem went unaddressed. Then Apple was sued by an aggravated Galaxy S5 owner.

Now? Apple released a tool to fix the problem late last week. And U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh ruled Monday that the lawsuit could move forward.

iMessage Deregistration Tool

Before we get to the tool, let's take a second to explain why Apple intercepts your text messages. By routing them through iMessage, Apple allows you to answer texts on all your Apple devices: iPads, iMacs, MacBooks, whatever. Plus, if your carrier charges for text messaging (this is thankfully now uncommon, as most plans include unlimited texts), it might save you some money.

But when you leave Apple's iPhone behind, if your phone number is registered with iMessage, other Apple users' messages will be intercepted and routed through iMessage, where they will be delivered to ... nowhere.

See the problem? Third-party sites like TechCrunch noticed the issue way back in 2012, and provided tips for manually deregistering a device, but Apple itself said nothing about the issue.

Now? There's a very simple tool for deregistration: Put your phone number in the iMessage site, they'll text you a code, and then you enter it back on the website. Boom. Deregistered.

Why did this take so long again?

Lawsuit Lives On

Unfortunately for Apple, the tool came a bit too late to satisfy Adrienne Moore, the plaintiff who switched from an iPhone 4 to a Samsung Galaxy S5, allegedly losing an unspecified number of messages in the process.

U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh, the most powerful woman in Silicon Valley if the number of tech trials she presides over is any indication, held Monday night that Moore's class action claims could go forward. The surviving claims include breach of or interference with a contract (with her cellular provider) and an unfair competition claim based on California state law, reports Reuters.

"Plaintiff does not have to allege an absolute right to receive every text message in order to allege that Apple's intentional acts have caused an actual breach or disruption of the contractual relationship," Judge Koh wrote.

Did you get bit by the iMessage registration bug? Tell us about it on Facebook.

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