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iMessages Going to Wrong iPhone "Isn't a Bug" Claims Apple

In December, an apparent bug appeared in Apple's iMessage service that allowed iMessages to be sent to a stolen iPhone. Earlier this week, Gizmodo reported that a customer who went to Apple's Genius Bar began receiving iMessages to and from the Genius who helped fix their phone.

It appears that the Genius took his personal SIM card and inserted it into the customer's iPhone as part of a series of unofficial and unapproved diagnostic efforts to fix the customer's phone. An Apple representative explained to The Loop's Jim Dalrymple that the issue in the Gizmodo story wasn't a bug, but instead was the result of the Genius not following protocol.
“This was an extremely rare situation that occurred when a retail employee did not follow the correct service procedure and used their personal SIM to help a customer who did not have a working SIM,” Apple representative Natalie Harrison told The Loop. “This resulted in a temporary situation that has since been resolved by the employee.”
The act of installing an employee's personal SIM card into a customer's iPhone is obviously not an approved procedure at the Genius Bar. However, the fact that the Genius wasn't supposed to perform this act does not mean that this was merely an "extremely rare situation".

In the Gizmodo situation, a customer was having difficulties with her iPhone 4 and took it to the Genius Bar to be serviced. When it was returned, the phone was in perfect working order, except for one thing: it displayed every incoming and outgoing iMessage meant for the Genius. Because he had inserted his personal SIM card into the iPhone during the diagnostic process, it registered with Apple's iMessage servers and began sending all of his messages to the customer's phone.

A number of customers have reported similar iMessage issues, including messages continuing to go to a stolen iPhone after a remote wipe and a SIM card deactivation. This is obviously an unintended action, and though Apple explains the solution to be "toggle iMessage on and off" in the Settings app, that is an impossible act to perform remotely on a stolen phone.

(Image via Ars Technica)

Top Rated Comments

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43 months ago
Apple needs to implement a simple solution:

You go to

Sign in with your Apple ID and you can see all iOS devices associated with that account (listed with the device name, serial number and the last time it was used).

This page would allow you to remove any of the devices from that page and they stop receiving iMessages from your account.

The same functionality could be added to the Settings app in iOS or as a separate App if they really wanted to.

Some people have said that you can do this by deleting the device from your products list on the Apple Support page, but that doesn't work for everyone.
Rating: 37 Votes
43 months ago

I'm confused. My iphone was stolen a couple months ago. Tracking went off a day later to an area of businesses I was the night before. They all denied having it. Does this mean some chump is reading my messages?

If so, you should use it to your advantage:

iMessage: Hi Harry, Couldn't find you, so I left the money with Jeff at [address of your workplace]. Just drop by and ask for "Jeff" and let him know you are here to get the money.
Rating: 21 Votes
43 months ago
As someone who tends to sell the previous model and upgrade each year, this worries me. I always perform a wipe and restore but what prevents a new (legitimate) owner of my phone from receiving iMessages intended for me?

It seems like this issue must be related to the iMessage servers refusing to unlink previously used devices.
Rating: 15 Votes
43 months ago
Wow, to me this is far worse than Jobs, "You're holding it wrong."

Their response is totally ignorant to the actual issue. People aren't upset that some random genius is now getting his messages sent to another phone... they're upset that there are ways that can happen!!!!

Talk about sticking their head in the sand and refusing to take responsibility and fix a bug that really should be fixed.

As some one else said, do I now have to worry when I sell my phone that some one else is going to be getting my texts?
Rating: 13 Votes
43 months ago
This is happening on my iPhone. And I didn't steal it. I just borrowed it, indefinitely, from some dude I don't know.
Rating: 12 Votes
43 months ago
Please Apple, please stop embarrassing yourselves.

Just fix it. And say you're working on fixing it. Now. This isn't something that you are secret about to generate a bit of buzz. It's a major security cockup. They happen. But you're making it worse.

Rating: 11 Votes
43 months ago
its not a "bug" its a feature ^^
Rating: 10 Votes
43 months ago

My wife and I went through this. Not with a stolen phone, but hers broke. I lent her mine and swapped SIMs. Our messages were flummoxed the whole time. I could read hers, se could read mine, and new messages often showed as sent from the wrong account. Tried toggling iMessage etc, but none of that worked.
Swapping the SIMs back solved the issues. Obviously something we could only do because we physically had the phones.

That scenario could be a disaster waiting to happen for some. I'm waiting for the "I lent my wife my iPhone and she started getting messages from my mistress!" stories to pop up on the interwebs. ;)
Rating: 8 Votes
43 months ago
After years of using iPhones, I am very tired about the bureaucracy that surrounds every part of iPhone use. Music being registered with a selected number of devices, pictures having to be updated trough iTunes, phone activation, selected computers that sync or don't sync with selected iPhones, ant the list expands forever. And now this too. I'm tired. I lived in Italy for a couple of years and I already had to deal with Kafka style bureaucracy, I don't need that from a cell phone too. Moving to Android has been such a nice experience that I'm sad I didn't do it before.
Rating: 8 Votes
43 months ago
Apple Stores don't have active SIM cards lying around to troubleshoot issues with customers phones, so Geniuses HAVE to use their own SIM cards to make sure it's the phone and not the SIM. I did it, every other Genius does it. It may be unofficial, but it's not rare and it's common practice.

Edit: They're supposed to, but good luck keeping track of them. No store I worked at had a working SIM for more than two days consecutively. AT&T reps are... less than quick to respond to questions for new ones, if anyone ever remembers to ask.
Rating: 8 Votes

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