Why I love iMessage, but hate it almost as much.

Being a Geek I often find myself getting to know people via the inter-tubes and often these people are located outside of Canada. For years I was faced with the inability to keep in touch via text message, unless of course I felt like selling my house to afford the international rates. I had played with several apps such as WhatsApp, TextPlus and a few others, but none ever seemed to feel as smooth as a text – then Apple announced iMessage.

For those not familiar with iMessage, it’s a platform created by Apple where when an iPhone/iPad user has iMessage enabled, instead of sending messages via SMS it actually sends them via the date through the Apple Servers. This ended up being the perfect solution for my international problem especially as I found more and more of my contacts (both in and out of Canada) using iPhones. For the most part iMessage works seamlessly allowing me to send lengthy messages, photos and videos right from the default Messages app in iOS; however, I will admit when iMessage has a bug – it REALLY SUCKS.

Here’s a few bugs I’ve encountered…

Awhile back someone I know went for a trip down to the US and in order to avoid international Data charges they disabled their Data. While they were there they decided to send me some text message updates along the way. The messages came through to my phone as a text message, but as soon as I went to respond my phone would go to send them an iMessage. I replied a couple times via iMessage but then realized that they weren’t showing as delivered and so I assumed that my contact wasn’t getting my messages. I ended up going into my ‘Messages settings’, disabled iMessage for a few seconds just so that I could SMS (text) them and explain I had wrote them but they were going through as iMessage. When my contact got back to Canadian soil we compared notes and as I suspected, they weren’t getting my iMessage.

After this I decided to play around with some settings and I determined that if you want to ensure that you can write back/forth with people as you wish when you go out of country, you’ll have to do this  via SMS. I determined that the best way to handle this is before you go out of range of Data you should disable iMessage so that you phone is deactivated from the iMessage server and thus reverting you back to SMS. When you’re back you can simply re-enable iMessage.

Now that being said, there is a plus to leaving the iMessage enabled if you’re going to be coming/going out of Wifi range while you’re away. My wife and I recently went on a trip to visit family for a couple weeks and we DID leave iMessage enabled which worked out really well. Since we were coming/going from wifi access on AT LEAST a daily basis it worked well as any time someone tried to iMessage us, the message would just wait on the Apple server until we got to internet access. This worked really well with our family at home since they could just send us an iMessage and we would get it when we were connected to the internet again.

Another issue that I’ve discovered comes when users switch away from iPhone. For example, a friend of mine recently broke his iPhone and decided to get a Samsung Galaxy S3. I wasn’t aware of this so I went to write him a few messages I noticed that the iMessages weren’t showing as delivered. Later that day I also noticed that he had activated Facebook for Android which clued me in to his handset change. I sent my friend a Facebook message and he explained to me what happened with his phone. Now although he has switched phones, Apple’s server doesn’t appear to “know this” yet so iPhone users like myself are defaulting to sending him an iMessages (which he’ll never get). Based on my experience with the previously mentioned problem, I suggested to my friend he pop his SIM back in his iPhone to deactive iMessage so it unregisters him from the Apple servers – but who knows how destroyed his iPhone is. I’ve searched this problem and it appears there may be a way to unregister your phone through iCloud.com, but either way this is an unnecessary nuisance.

Now some of these issues could be solved by simply enabling a setting where the phone will send by SMS if the iMessage fails, but this is risky when you’re messaging with people international. For example say I’m messaging one of my contacts in the US. If he has his phone off for an extended period of time, the iMessage may not be able to go through and then my phone will default to sending him a text – which could cost my $0.50 or so each. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but it can add up REALLY quick. Another example would be if I was roaming in the US and disabled my Data. When anther iMessage user went to send me a message, it might up coming through as a text and then I would get charged ROAMING text rates as well.

The final issue I want to mention is group messages. A handy feature about iMessage is the ability to group message multiple contacts. This is super handy if you have a project you’re working on (ie. In my scenario a podcast). Now that being said, it can also be a huge annoyance if a couple of  individuals get chatting about something that doesn’t relate to yourself. There is no way to EXIT/opt out of group messages unless you turn of iMessage all together. I’ve been on both ends where I’ve had friend’s ask me to stop group messaging with them, and conversely where I’ve asked people to stop group messaging with me. The balance between Group iMessage being benefit or a hindrance is very close, and to tip the scale to a pro, it needs to have an exit feature.

So what’s your thoughts on iMessage?

Stephen is a west coast Canadian who enjoys pretty much all things geeky. Whether it's podcasting, playing with tech or just watching a great re-run of Star Trek, Stephen is probably interested in it. GonnaGeek is the brain child of Stephen. You see, for years he has helped run the Fanboy Buzz comic book website but sometimes he found himself needing to talk more than just comics... that's why he created GonnaGeek.

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  1. I think this was Apple trying to replicate BBM. However, much like Apple’s other software initiatives its not quite right.

  2. Stephen Stephen says:

    Yea, it sort of was the closest attempt to BBM that we’ve had, but still too many bugs.

  3. Agreed. I have many times where it gets stuck trying to send an iMessage and then 10 minutes later finally sends the message as SMS. Really breaks up conversation a lot.

  4. Mattheaw Montoyaa says:

    Neither of these are valid issues. Both problems are not a result of things you do not have control in. Additionally, u can simply create a new contact with the friends new info. (Or an additional contact with same number) and you can easily send text not iMessage.

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