Apple’s iMessage is touted as the end of SMS, thanks to its integration with the already in-use Messages app and the most important part of the deal – iMessages are completely free. One are where SMS does appear to have the upper hand though is invoked when your iPhone is stolen, or just plain lost.
According to various reports collated by Ars Technica, some users are finding themselves faced with a strange problem, a problem which manifests itself when they already have enough on their place because their iPhones have been snatched.
What’s happening is all rather strange.
Let’s say, for argument’s sake that you have your iPhone stolen. You follow all the usual procedures by remotely wiping it, changing the password of the iTunes account that is associated with the now missing iPhone, and finally informing your carrier so they can stop the missing handset from sending or receiving calls or SMS messages. There’s nothing more you can do, other than plan when you are going to buy your replacement handset.
The problem is, all those stops and measures do not necessarily guarantee that the stolen iPhone will not be able to send or receive iMessages, Apple’s iOS-only replacement for SMS.
Just think about that for a second. You have disassociated the phone number from the device. You’ve remote wiped it, and you have even changed your Apple ID password. What else were you supposed to do? Apart from taking it to Mordor?
According to the reports, there isn’t a great deal you can do – it would appear that, at least in some situations, iOS devices are finding they are at least semi-permanently being associated with certain Apple IDs, and you just can’t stop it from happening.
So what is the cause? Apple hasn’t answered anyone’s questions on the matter, but security expert Jonathan Zdziarski speculates that the missing link here may be the SIM card itself.
"I can only speculate, but I can see this being plausible," Zdziarski told Ars. "iMessage registers with the subscriber’s phone number from the SIM, so let’s say you restore the phone, it will still read the phone number from the SIM. I suppose if you change the SIM out after the phone has been configured, the old number might be cached somewhere either on the phone or on Apple’s servers with the UDID of the phone."
That explanation does make sense, but it doesn’t exactly help those that are suffering from such a problem.
It will be interesting to see what Apple says about this issue moving forward, or if they will even accept it exists. We’re willing to suggest they will not.