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.

stolenphone
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

Daveoc64 Avatar
144 months ago
Apple needs to implement a simple solution:

You go to apple.com/imessage

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.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
oldMac Avatar
144 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.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cathode Avatar
144 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.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tigress666 Avatar
144 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?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
blizaine Avatar
144 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.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
The Phazer Avatar
144 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.

Phazer
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

dewey airtag

Report Highlights Danger of Using AirTags for Tracking Dogs

Monday January 30, 2023 1:45 pm PST by
AirTags may be a convenient way for tracking dogs that might get off leash or otherwise lost, but there are dangers associated with the practice, as outlined by a report from The Wall Street Journal. At 1.26 inches in diameter, AirTags are able to fit easily on a dog's collar, but that size also makes the tracking devices small enough to swallow, at least for a medium to large-sized dog, and ...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Five New iOS Features Coming to Your iPhone Later This Year

Tuesday January 31, 2023 11:58 am PST by
Apple has previously announced several upcoming iOS features that are expected to be added to the iPhone this year. Some of the features could be introduced with iOS 16.4, which should enter beta testing soon, while others will arrive later in the year. Below, we have recapped five new iOS features that are expected to launch in 2023, such as an Apple Pay Later financing option for purchases ...
Apple Silicon Teal Feature

The Next Big Apple Silicon Device May Not Be a Mac or iPad

Wednesday February 1, 2023 3:57 am PST by
Apple's next device with an Apple silicon chip may not be a Mac or an iPad, but rather an advanced external display, according to recent reports. The display, which is rumored to arrive this year, is expected to sit somewhere between the $1,599 Studio Display and the $4,999 Pro Display XDR – but more exact information about the device's positioning and price point is as yet unknown. While ...
Multi Display CarPlay 1

Apple Launching All-New CarPlay Experience Later This Year With These 5 Features

Sunday January 29, 2023 10:15 am PST by
In June 2022, Apple previewed the next generation of CarPlay, promising deeper integration with vehicle functions like A/C and FM radio, support for multiple displays across the dashboard, personalization options, and more. Apple says the first vehicles with support for the next-generation CarPlay experience will be announced in late 2023, with committed automakers including Acura, Audi,...
MKBHD HomePod 2 White Ring Stain

New HomePod Can Still Stain Some Wooden Surfaces

Tuesday January 31, 2023 8:29 am PST by
When the original HomePod launched in 2018, it was discovered that the speaker can leave white rings on some wooden surfaces. Now, well-known YouTuber Marques Brownlee has confirmed that the issue persists to a lesser extent with the new HomePod. In a side-by-side test, he showed that the white second-generation HomePod left a white ring on the wooden surface that he placed the speaker on,...
HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Blue

Apple Explains Why HomePod Was Released Again, Wi-Fi 4 Limitation, and More

Thursday February 2, 2023 7:57 am PST by
Apple's VP of hardware engineering Matthew Costello and product marketing employee Alice Chan recently spoke with Men's Journal and TechCrunch about the new second-generation HomePod in wide-ranging interviews about the smart speaker. Apple discontinued the original full-size HomePod in March 2021 after multiple reports indicated that sales of the speaker were lackluster, but Chan told Men's ...