Apple Explains the iMessage Bug (Updated)

Illustration for article titled Apple Explains the iMessage Bug (Updated)

According to Apple, the iMessage bug we posted yesterday isn't really a bug. It's a rare incident caused by an employee's over eagerness to help a customer.

Yesterday we posted an article detailing a potential iMessage bug that could be a privacy nightmare. This isn't the first time iMessage has come under fire for sticking around on a device even after it should have been wiped. The Loop got a hold of Apple's Natalie Harrisson and she shared Apple's take on the whole situation:

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. This resulted in a temporary situation that has since been resolved by the employee.


According to the Loop, if the employee had toggled iMessage on and off in the iPhone's Settings after putting his SIM card in the phone, none of this would have happened. Apple says it's not a bug, effectively, but it seems to us any situation where someone's messages wind up on somebody else's phone is definitely a bug, even if it only occurs in rare situations.

Update: I've been able to recreate the bug that we reported on yesterday. After placing my iPhone 4S SIM in my wiped iPhone 3GS, the 3GS turned on iMessage and began receiving and sending iMessages. It did this without prompting me for an password. After pulling the SIM out of the 3GS, the phone continued to receive and send iMessages. I followed Apple's advice and toggled iMessage on and off and that removed the account.

TechCrunch received tips form Apple on how to deal with iMessage after a device has been stolen:

Remote Wipe and then call your carrier/de-active your SIM (de-register must be within 24 hours after Remote Wipe)


Activate a replacement phone with a replacement SIM using your same phone number


Change your Apple ID password (only works if you use an Apple ID with iMessage)

[The Loop]


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Not a rare occurrence at all.

Apple Stores typically 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. They're supposed to, but they disappear ever day and most AT&T reps are ... slow to respond to requests for more "known good" SIM cards.

I did it, every other Genius does it. It may be unofficial, but it's not rare and it's common practice. Sometimes you just want to get the customer on their way, so you do what you can.

The active SIMs in the display iPhones can't be removed without taking the phone apart. To deter theft, display iPhones have their SIM tray replaced with one WITHOUT a pinhold slot to eject the SIM, so you can't get them out. They're also special accounts in some way or another.