When it debuted in 2011, iMessage was a game changer. The instant messaging app came pre-loaded as a lightweight alternative to traditional SMS texts, and made it easy for two (or more) friends with iPhones to quickly send texts, photos, and videos like they were firing off IMs on a desktop. You could even tell when the other person was typing, which added another layer of complexity/paranoia to the way we communicate digitally.
One problem: If an iPhone user were to, say, switch to an Android phone after using iMessage, he or she would run into a nasty bug. The Android owner’s SMS texts would get mistakenly treated as iMessages, meaning untold volumes of texts would get sucked into the swirly drainpipes of Apple’s data centers, and no one would ever know. It is annoying and frustrating, and some critics read it as a malicious way for Apple to keep phone owners confined to iOS. Getting the bug fixed meant calling AppleCare and dealing with customer service reps to deregister the device, which is its own special kind of headache.
But now it looks like Apple has (finally) rolled out an easy fix. As first spotted on Reddit, Apple has a new “deregister iMessage” page where non-iPhone owners can input their number to have their phone removed from the iMessage directory.
To use the new tool, simply input your phone number, wait for the text message confirmation, then type the six-digit code to complete your deregistration. Why it took Apple so long is anyone’s guess. But it just got a little bit easier to jump between phones on a whim.