Skip to main content

AT&T and Google want access to the secret docs in Apple’s iMessage suit

iMessage 2
Late last year, a federal court approved a suit against Apple for its handling of an iMessage bug that affected users who switched from an iPhone to an Android phone. The disgruntled customers found that they didn’t receive messages from iPhone users after they got their new Android phones.

It’s been nearly nine months since then, and two interesting companies have joined the party: AT&T and Google. It’s not clear what the motives are of either company, but both filed motions with the federal court. The early consensus is that both companies want to get a look at some of Apple’s internal communications regarding how the company handled fixing the problem that spanned over three years.

Related Videos

Disappearing messages

The suit emerged after many consumers, who switched from an iPhone to an Android phone and kept the same phone number, could not receive text messages from iPhone users. The issue was a fallacy in Apple’s iMessage cloud messaging app that wouldn’t allow it to deliver text messages to a phone number no longer connected to Apple’s iCloud service. Consumers were forced to jump through hoops to remove their phone numbers from iCloud.

The complaint is not only for the inconvenience, but it’s more about the fact that Apple didn’t notify users that they would not be able to receive text messages from other iPhone users if they switched to another platform. More importantly, since these messages were never delivered, the plaintiffs feel that the text messages were “illegally intercepted and interned by Apple.” In other words, the messages were held by Apple indefinitely and never delivered. This could count as “unauthorized access” and a violation of both the Stored Communications Act and the Federal Wiretap Act.

Apple obviously denies the claims and contends it did not maliciously hold the text messages, nor did the company spy on them. The problem has been since rectified, but it took more than three years to fix.

AT&T and Google peek at secret court documents

What’s interesting about this case is that Apple was granted permission to keep the litigation in secrecy, so the majority of court documents will never be seen by the public. The emergence of AT&T and Google in this case is likely to open some access to these documents, but it’s also possible that it could result in further cases against Apple.

AT&T and Google might be looking for evidence that suggests Apple maliciously took its time to fix the problem.

AT&T claims that many customers returned Android phones after switching from an iPhone because they weren’t getting all their text messages. So AT&T had to deal with irate customers for something that was not in the company’s control. Those returns were most likely either at a cost to AT&T or sent back to the manufacturers at a cost to them.

The bottom line is that both AT&T and Google might be looking for evidence that suggests Apple maliciously took its time to rectify the situation, which in turn hurt sales for AT&T, as well as for Google and it’s Android manufacturers.

The potential outcome

If there is a silver lining for Apple, it’s the fact that U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ruled recently that the case could not proceed as a class action suit. This means that if Apple were to lose, the company would only be responsible for damages to the original plaintiff, Adrienne Moore. If it were allowed to move forward as a class action suit, more people could participate, which would raise the cost of damages significantly. However, this ruling doesn’t stop AT&T, Google, or anyone else from filing a separate suit.

We will have to keep an eye on this one, as it is sure to get very interesting.

Editors' Recommendations

5 things the iPhone has to change in 2023 before I ditch Android
iPhone 14 Pro with a black always-on screen.

The iPhone’s operating system is many things, but perfect is not one of them. It’s been two years since I shifted to using an iPhone as my primary device, but I still use an Android as my secondary smartphone. And if I weren’t invested in the Apple ecosystem, I would have ditched my iPhone a long time ago.

I have been hoping desperately for iOS to get better at some things Android has been doing for years. For instance, I love scrolling through Twitter while watching a music video on YouTube. I can do this simultaneously on an Android thanks to multiwindow support, but iOS only offers picture-in-picture at best.

Read more
I don’t understand why Apple hates the 10th Gen iPad so much
Apple iPad Gen 10 with the official keyboard accessory.

I love using the iPad as my primary computer. No self-respecting digital nomad should be allowed to say those words. At least not in 2022, when iPadOS is still miles behind macOS, primarily because of Apple’s walled-garden approach to the iPad app ecosystem.

But after spending well over $800 on the whole kit with the new Magic Keyboard Folio and Apple Pencil, maybe I’ve downed the bitter potion of its cons and learned to love it. Or, to put it more accurately, be at peace with its limitations. Whatever way you put it, this sleek tablet is impressive, and infuriating, to the same measure.
Performance champ, middling execution

Read more
Sunbird looks like the iMessage for Android app you’ve been waiting for
Sunbird Android app screenshots.

The idea of iMessage for Android sounds like a pipe dream, and for the most part, it is. Apps like AirMessage and Bleeper do make it possible to get iMessage on your Android phone today, but they often require complicated networking and Wi-Fi port forwarding, plus a Mac or iPhone to run in the background 24/7.

These apps technically work, but they're not things the average user can comfortably and confidently rely on. A new app — called Sunbird — now promises to change that.
iMessage on Android, now simplified

Read more