The Apple Text Message Lawsuit

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The Apple text message lawsuit has been big news in the mobile tech forums recently. If you’ve recently switched from an iPhone to an Android based phone, you may be one of the people the lawsuit is meant to help.

What happened? Why are people suing Apple? Let’s find out and see if you should do some more research about it.

Apple Users Were Forced into Using iMessage Service

iMessage is the messaging platform that Apple introduced with iOS 5 way back in 2011. This was pretty revolutionary at the time because up until then, all text messages had to be sent using the carrier’s SMS (Simple Messaging Service) platform. Of course, these messages counted against the number of messages they were given with their monthly plans. If you sent lots of text messages, this could add up quickly and get quite expensive.

The solution was to send these messages as data instead of an SMS message, like WhatsApp does. When you’re out and about, the service would use your cellular data connection to send the message. Conversely, when there is an available Wi-Fi network that your phone or iPad is connected to, it would use the Wi-Fi connection. People loved it. SMS message totals were known to drop from thousands of SMS messages a month to just a couple hundred.

How iMessage Works

When an iPad or iPhone user composed a text message and hit “send,” the device’s operating system (iOS 5 and above) would intercept the message and send it to the iMessage platform built into the operating system. If the device is connected to a Wi-Fi network, iMessage would send the message over that network; if the only network available was the cellular network, as stated above, that message would be converted to data and sent over the data network. However, the recipients also had to be using an i-device for this to work.

One of the selling points that Apple pushed for the iMessage platform is security. Your typical SMS message can be intercepted and read by prying eyes. However, since the iMessage platform uses an end-to-end encryption that is pretty secure, message interception, while not impossible, was made quite difficult, making those messages almost as secure as handing the recipient a sealed note. This encryption is so secure that it can’t even be broken with a court order. Now that’s secure!

Have you ever wondered if the person you sent a message to received it? I have, quite a few times. It’s not terribly fun sending a message to one of your kids and then sitting around for hours wondering if they’ll reply, or if they even received your message. iMessage comes with a feature that tells you when the sent message has been received and read. “Ok. He received it, but is just ignoring me. Gotcha.” iMessage also lets you receive messages on more than one device, unlike the SMS system.

Now the Bad News: iMessage Has a Serious Bug

The problem is, the Android operating system doesn’t have iMessage. There was also a bug discovered in the iMessaging platform. The person that originated the lawsuit, Adrienne Moore, unintentionally discovered this bug earlier this year when she dropped her iPhone and switched to a Samsung phone that runs the Android operating system (A Samsung Galaxy S5). To put it lightly, she was not a happy camper.

Ms. Moore has several friends who still have iPhones. She found out, the hard way, that she wasn’t receiving most of the messages sent to her from friends that still use iPhones.

I’ve had friends send me messages that I haven’t received, also. What’s the big deal?, you ask.

The big deal is that it wasn’t just the occasional message here and there. It was almost every message sent to her from an iPhone after she switched. Even worse, Apple apparently knew about the bug, did nothing about it, and didn’t warn their users about it.

This happens because of how iMessage handles and delivers messages. Once an SMS message to a new number/contact is intercepted, the operating system queries the iMessage database to see if the recipient’s phone number is there. If so, the message is routed via the data network using an addressing scheme that approximates an email address. However, if the recipient stops using an Apple phone, their database entry isn’t deleted, so the system continues trying to deliver the message using the iMessage system and the message goes into limbo.

This all happened back in January and February of this year. Since that time, there have been numerous stories on national publications about the issue, like this one from the Business Insider. David Segal, the guy that writes The Haggler column for the New York Times, has also experienced the problem and written about it.

Tracking the Apple Text Message Lawsuit

Lawyers are currently working on taking the case into class action status, meaning that anyone that has experienced a loss of messages because this bug can join in and add their name to the lawsuit. Ex-iPhone users have written in saying the bug caused them to lose relationships, business opportunities, and even sales commissions. If you recently switched from an Apple device to another operating system and lost text messages, you should see if you qualify to be in on this Apple text message lawsuit.

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