Saturday, November 3, 2012

iMessage Suffering More Outages, Performance Issues


Apple’s iMessage service, which uses your data connection to deliver text and multimedia messages, was touted as an all-data solution to text messaging. It’s supposed to deliver messages sent from any of your contacts who are on iOS to all of your personal iOS and Mac devices, simultaneously. Except it doesn’t always do a very good job of this.

Apple has suffered two notable iMessage outages  in the past week, highlighting the continued growing pains of the year-old service.

“I hate when my iMessage decides to not work and my texts send as actual text messages #annoying,” disgruntled user @KellyTurner  tweeted last week. Another user, @adamtheteen , echoed that sentiment in the midst of the second bout of iMessage downtime this week: “I hate when iMessage just randomly stops working.”

I was also exasperated  by the continued bugginess of Apple’s messaging service, a pain point we brought up in our review of iOS 6.

There are more than 140 million iMessage users sending 28,000 iMessages per second, according to Apple’s latest stats. Clearly, it’s a high-volume service and must be challenging to support. But if you’re going to create a cloud-based service for this many users (200 million people are now on iOS 6, and through March of this year, Apple had sold 365 million iOS devices), you better have the resources to keep it running smoothly.

Google seems to be able to do it — well, except for that brief Gmail downtime  this afternoon.

Of the recent outages, the first scuttled iMessage and Facetime on Oct. 25 . The second, which happened Tuesday afternoon, was a larger iCloud-wide outage , affecting iMessage, FaceTime, and Game Center (along with iCloud itself). iMessage users found themselves sending messages that weren’t actually  being delivered, a frustrating predicament for both sender and receiver in a conversation.

“While I don’t believe these are serious, it’s not typical of Apple to have these types of system issues,” Gartner analyst Brian Blau told Wired via email. “You would expect that Apple would address the problems immediately, and if we see more outages, then Apple should at least let users know the source of the problems.”

Apple generally doesn’t comment on iMessage downtime, but there is a way to check if an issue is widespread or not by visiting the iCloud system status page . (Apple didn’t respond to our requests for comment, and both AT&T and Verizon deferred to Apple.)

Of course, these are not the first instances of iMessage problems. Users experienced widespread problems back in September , and others had issues getting things settled with their Apple IDs and getting things synced across Mountain Lion and iOS 6 after iOS 6 launched .

Last December, it was discovered that if your iPhone is stolen, your iMessages (and those of the new phone owner) could end up in the wrong hands. And when Messages launched in beta for the desktop in February, it came with a number of problems, including inconsistency with sending messages to phone numbers and e-mail addresses (a problem that seems to persist even now that iMessages is out of beta). The beta would also delay the sending  and receiving of messages on iOS devices, so users would receive no messages for a period, and then an influx of messages all at once.

iMessages certainly works a majority of the time. But for a service that needs to work every time — what’s the point of communicating if your communications aren’t actually being delivered? — there’s a lot of room for improvement.
So, what was that BS about Apple products "just working"?

Why would the iPhone need a manual?  I thought it was intuitive and didn't require any instruction.


  1. "So, what was that BS about Apple products 'just working'?"

    Apple's product features generally work with less fuss than the competition. Save your gloating for the unlikely event that Apple no longer tops user satisfaction polls.

    "Why would the iPhone need a manual? I thought it was intuitive and didn't require any instruction."

    Apple's manuals, when provided, tend to be very brief. That's one of the benefits of having a system that isn't riddled with configuration and customization options. Furthermore, Apple doesn't make frequent dramatic changes to their UI , which means that there isn't a whole new learning curve very often. Witness the controversy over each new version of Windows.

  2. This guy believed the "free and open" hype and gave Android a serious long term try. He went through several Android phones over a 2-year period, but in the end is returning to the iPhone, because, by comparison, it just worked.

  3. Wow, someone's a bit sensitive. If Apple product features "generally work" than why all the complaints and bad reviews? Before you give the answer "It's all FUD and made up sensational headlines by the evil media..." remember, they put out bad articles about EVERY product so that would mean they are all lying or every product has problems, including Apple. As for that 1 guy that chose iPhone over Android. I can name 10 more that dropped iPhone for the superior Android platform. After all, it's the more popular mobile OS these days.

    1. Apple products DO get mostly good reviews, although there are SOME in the media (and especially tech bloggers) who seem to have an axe to grind about Apple, or for whom the features and priorities of Apple products are not appropriate for them personally. Biased reviewers act as if the whole world should share their priorities (open source = good, walled garden = bad, cell phones must be as big as possible, batteries must be removable, etc.), and also tend to dwell on minor issues that don't affect everyone or are easily remedied.

      Despite are the negative FUD, Apple customers are still the most satisfied. That should indicate how relevant the criticisms really are.

      I'm not suggesting that people who are genuinely happy with Android should give it up. But the Fandroids seem to assume that all Apple owners are delusional or misguided, and that they only pretend to enjoy their products because they overpaid for them (or some such nonsense.)

    2. There you go again using the term FUD trying to deflate the real problems with Apple. Since you dismiss ACTUAL proof than maybe fiction would work. Ok, let's try this. Apple is a wonderful company, they make perfect products that never fail and are impervious to virus attacks and physical damage. They give these devices out for almost nothing and for every device that is bought, they plant a tree and donate a million dollars to the children's cancer society and supply food and water to the homeless. It's just too bad that NONE of that is true but if it makes you happy, read it over and over you dense asshole.

    3. Sure Apple has real problems... problems that despite all the hoopla, are just not widespread or significant to the majority of its customers. But haters will keep going on about them, hoping something will stick and finally bring about the doom that Apple so richly deserves.

      As far as name calling, It takes one to know one.

  4. Tru, I know a handful of people that made the switch to Android and are very happy. Seriously dude, if you think Apple is so great why do you feel the need to defend them? I think your defense mode is a sign that the complaints or bad reviews have truth. Hike up your skirt and run home, Nancy.

    1. Well, an anecdotal handful is certainly conclusive proof (of nothing).

      And if people think that Apple so self-evidently bad, why do they feel the leave negative comments on every Apple article on the web? Some apparently even feel the need to set up hater websites. If your logic had any merit, this would be conclusive evidence that Apple criticism was NOT valid.

  5. Well, it's not an "anecdotal handful" it is a documented and widespread problem. People leave negative comments on sites because they don't like Apple or have a problem with their devices. The hate and the proof of problems with the Apple devices justifies the criticism. Wow, does everything have to be explained to you? If you don't like hater sites then stop giving this one your attention.

  6. Most Apple-negative comments on blogs seem to come from people who proudly don't own any Apple products and are only too happy to announce that fact to the world. They seem to want to convince everyone else to follow their example. Anyone who disagrees with them is labeled an "iSheep".

    Apple is not perfect. There are sometimes problems with new products. Yet they still beat everyone else in customer satisfaction. The haters try to amplify each flaw as if it indicates Apple's downfall. In reality, the problems are neither as serious nor as widespread as portrayed. Apple keeps chugging along much to the dismay of the haters.

    If people prefer Android, Windows, Linux, or whatever non-Apple technology, I don't have a problem with that. But I find it strange the haters want to convince Apple owners that they are wrong about their product choices.