Unregistering from iMessage still doesn’t work for group messages

There was some mild Internet controversy in 2014 because iPhone-to-Android switchers weren’t getting texts from iMessage users after leaving the iOS platform.

This has mostly been resolved due to Apple’s Deregister iMessage tool, but group messages still fail.

If a person unregisters from iMessage, group conversations are still sent through iMessage and are never received by the person who unregistered.

Reproduction Steps

This is easy to reproduce if you have three iPhones lying around:

  1. Activate three iPhones. (Call them Alan, Betty, and Charlie’s phones.)
  2. Start a group iMessage from one to the other two.
  3. Deactivate iMessage on Alan’s iPhone.
  4. Move Alan’s SIM card to an Android phone.
  5. Send a message from Betty’s phone to the group thread.

The message from Betty should be delivered to the recipients over SMS (green bubbles) since Alan no longer uses iMessage.

Here’s what actually happens:

  • To Betty, the message falsely appears to be sent successfully.
  • Charlie receives the message because he has iMessage.
  • Alan is never notified of the message because he only has SMS and the message was sent over iMessage.

This happens on the latest version of iOS. It only affects group messages; individual (non-group) conversations revert to SMS as expected.

Additional Problems

If Betty deletes the entire group thread and starts a new one, it will send over SMS as expected. However, when Charlie replies to Betty’s message, it will be sent over iMessage and won’t be received by Alan.

Also, once Charlie sends this reply, Betty’s thread will switch back over to iMessage, and future messages won’t be received by Alan.

Workaround

The only way to resolve this issue is for Betty and Charlie to coordinate with each other, and both delete their group threads with Alan simultaneously. The conversation will then continue over SMS when someone starts a new one.


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