Switching to Android: How to fix not receiving text messages from iPhone iOS users

After quite a few years of reliable use, my iPhone 5S finally broke down on me. There were some odd scratches or particles inside the camera mechanism in the phone that caused large blotches to appear in all of my pictures. It was really annoying because I love using my phone camera while I’m out.

A picture of my wall, showing the dark blotches from damage to the camera.
A picture of my wall, showing the dark blotches from damage to the camera.

I did some research online and the problem seems to be caused by dust or impact damage to the camera lens. My iPhone wasn’t new, by any means. It had suffered more than a few drops and it was out of warranty. Regardless, Apple won’t repair damage to the camera in-store. People who had this issue were given new phones instead if they were within the warranty period. Even if Apple did repair damaged camera mechanisms, I wonder if it would have been worth it? A brand new iPhone 5S is $99 on Virgin Mobile. The repair might have been as much or more.

Not quite ready to spend a lot of money on a new phone, I tried carrying around an actual camera with me for a while. Besides being extra weight, bulky, and more difficult to use (so many settings and stuff), it felt like I was whipping out and wielding a rotary phone. Mostly, it was just an awkward experience and the pictures the camera took weren’t that good anyway. Even the iPhone 5S did a better job. I wasn’t really surprised though. The camera I was trying to use as an alternative was a few years older than the 5S.

I finally caved and decided it was time to purchase a new phone. After much consideration, I decided to jump ship and switch to a Samsung Galaxy S7 running Android Nougat 7.0. I think what finally sold me on the device was the water and dust proofing (so I wouldn’t have the camera problem I had with the iPhone 5S) and the excellent camera. I’m also still butthurt about Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. I don’t think it was worth it to get a vibrating non-button home button. They’re giving less and asking for more than a viable competitor.

It took me about 10-12 hours to install and log into my favorite apps (or find alternatives in the Google Play Store), customize the launcher, set wallpapers, and just get comfortable with the device. But then I hit a snag. I realized I wasn’t receiving text messages that were sent to me by people using iPhones.

The Fix:

I did some research online to see how to get the problem fixed. I had a feeling it had something to do with iMessages, and I was right. The top search results recommended doing things like sending text messages to random numbers with a STOP command, but that didn’t seem to do anything. Also, the article was pretty old and dealt with a previous version of iOS.

I did some tinkering on my own and realized the solution in iOS 10 is pretty simple:

Simply toggle off iMessages in your Messages Settings menu.
Simply toggle off iMessages in your Messages Settings menu.

On your iPhone, open Settings < Messages, and toggle off iMessage. If you have an iPad like I do, toggle off iMessage there as well. Also, in the next menu down, toggle off FaceTime.

Then you just have to wait. I managed to get this far at around 2 AM. By 8:30 am, I was receiving text messages from iPhone users again.

If you have an iPad, make sure to turn off iMessage there as well. Also disable FaceTime.
If you have an iPad, make sure to turn off iMessage there as well. Also disable FaceTime.

As far as the Samsung Galaxy S7 goes, it was worth it. It’s an awesome phone, especially coming from an iPhone 5S. I’m happy with the camera too. I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to test it yet, but so far I’m happy with how it performs. There are no filters on the photos below:

Don’t Use Sprint if You Want to Own Your iPhone

Just an FYI. Don’t get #Sprint.

When you finish your 2 year contract, they won’t unlock your iPhone 4s for domestic use on other networks. They also won’t lower your bill after your phone is paid off and you by all rights own it completely. And they’ll tell you some bogus story about how it’s because you don’t really own it. They do, because you got it at a subsidized rate, even though common sense tells you that the cost of the phone is included in the higher rate, which is why #TMobile has separated plan cost from phone cost in their new offerings.

They’ll also try to spin some web of garbage about how even if the iPhone 4S were unlocked it wouldn’t work on US GSM networks, even though it’s the same hardware that is used by AT&T and Verizon and T-Mobile and it has GSM radios and CDMA and works on Canadian frequencies which are the same as US frequencies.

So basically I pumped about 2400+ bucks into Sprint over two years and now I can’t even use my phone the way I want, where I want, despite being the legal owner. Why? Because there is no law to compel Sprint to unlock these phones yet. The other big 3 do it voluntarily and legislation is unfolding that would compel unlocking, but I can’t wait that long and continue to pay the same rate I was paying when I was paying off the phone. Basically, Sprint is a greedy sack of crap company that won’t unlock phones for customers because they’d rather trap you and keep sucking the money out of your pocket while offering you subpar service at an inflated rate.

Well guess what? There are better options. One of them is the one I mentioned above: T-Mobile. They have a great plan set up. 50 bucks a month for data/text/talk + phone cost, and phone cost goes away after 24 months when you own your hardware. Unlike Sprint. Who keeps you at the same rate, even though you paid off your hardware.

But, I don’t trust plans anymore. I don’t want to deal with it.

I’m so through with Sprint that I just ordered a 5S from Virgin Mobile cash up front. I’ll use their prepaid plan and be locked in at that rate for the rest of my life if I want, 35 bucks a month unlimited talk/text/data. And you know what? I still may not be able to take my phone with me when (or if I ever) leave Virgin, but I’ll know what I’m getting up front. And the cost savings over time are more than worth it to me. 93 a month on Sprint versus 35 a month on Virgin plus the up front cost of the phone is still a savings of almost 1200 dollars over 24 months.

Suck it, Sprint.

Al Jazeera English Is Still Available in Singapore

I was reading a blog post on Al Jazeera’s ‘The Asia Blog‘ about a correspondent’s experience in Singapore in 1994.  He was saying that though Singapore has grown in leaps and bounds, some things don’t change in terms of media censorship.  He questions whether or not the removal of Al Jazeera English was truly a commercial decision and whether or not StarHub would be allowed to make its own decision about whether or not to carry the station.

I’m not an expert on this, but just from my general impressions there is still an atmosphere of self-censorship for fear of lawsuits and other legal actions here. I think it’s mostly due to the government’s zealous use of libel laws to maintain a pristine image. So, people still tend to be very very careful about what they say in regards to the government or any government entity.  I’m not writing this post to debate whether or not the practice of libel lawsuits is a valid method of ensuring government stability.  I’m merely responding to what the correspondent said in his blog post and affirming that, from a foreign perspective, the atmosphere is still a bit like what he said it was in 1994.

That being said, it’s very easy to get outside news in Singapore through world-wide traditional news networks online. News via internet is not censored here, and Singapore is one of the most ‘connected’ countries I’ve ever seen. Internet service is very affordable here.  Not having access at home is also not a deterrent to connecting to the rest of the world.  Anyone who has a device capable of browsing the internet can gain access for free through the wireless@sg initiative, which places free public wi-fi in almost all public facilities, including malls and libraries. So, if people want an outside view it’s very easy for them to access it, including Al Jazeera content online.

I was first exposed to Al Jazeera English in Qatar, when I was stationed there as a US Soldier. I was a little skeptical of the station at first, due to its name, but after getting over my bias, I’ve recognized it as one of the best news stations available. It offers a unique perspective on the world and while I don’t subscribe to the idea of believing everything from just one station, I use it as a balance against the other news stations I consume.

In short, I love Al Jazeera English. I love the stories it covers. I love the diversity.


I also love how I can still watch AJE streaming live via its iPhone app, even though it has been taken off the air in Singapore.  It looks a little fuzzy blown up in this image, but on my iPhone screen it’s clear.  The sound is clear.  It streams easily over home wi-fi.

So, if you love AJE programming and have an iPhone, you can still watch it.  The app is free.  Just make sure you’re using wi-fi or you might go over your monthly data allowance.

MyTransport.SG: Why LTA Really Killed the ‘Park-a-Lot’ iPhone App

A few days ago I wrote a post about how LTA had told Park-a-Lot developer, NiiDees, that his wildly popular iPhone app could no longer access real-time parking information from garages.

The reasons cited were that the information leased to LTA was only allowed to be shown on its site, and not through iPhone apps.  They also said that they would consider leasing the information out, for a hefty price I’m sure.  Thinking about it now, that in itself is a contradiction.  If the information was only licensed for their site, how could they license it out?

From an article in today’s online edition of the Straits Times titled “Mobile service for commuters”:

“There is also information on premium buses, Electronic Road Pricing gantries and rates as well as updated information on available car park lots, among other things.”

via StraitsTimes.com

I suppose the truth of the matter is that they were blowing smoke.  It seems as though they were killing free competition in advance of their release of a new web portal called MyTransport.SG which was launched today and will provide parking information, among other things.  If LTA were a public company I could understand if they wanted to limit competition or use of public data that’s being paid for by citizens, but that’s simply not the case here.

MyTransport.sg standard browser incompatibility message
MyTransport.sg standard browser incompatibility message.

Regardless, I took a look at the new mobile site, which is only accessible via a mobile browser, and it looks like they did a fairly good job with it.  The design looks like an iPhone home screen (lawsuit pending?) with the functionality of a native iPhone app, including a “Home” button and a “Location” button along the bottom of the screen.  Here are some screenshots:

MyTransport.sg Homescreen
MyTransport.sg Homescreen
The Parking Guide
The Parking Guide, and probably the reason why LTA shut off Park-A-Lot’s Access
MRT LRT Station Search
MRT LRT Station Search

You can use it to find the nearest MRT or LRT station.  If you don’t want to enter a search term, you can press the location button towards the bottom of the screen (crosshairs icon) and then allow your location to be broadcast to automatically get results.

Allow MyTransport.sg to use your location pop-up.
Allow MyTransport.sg to use your location pop-up.
Nearby Bus Stops
Nearby Bus Stops

The results are really accurate.  It gave a good list of all the bus stops near to where I am.

I’m not sure I like LTA’s questionable business practices, but I have to say they did a good job with their web interface for this data.

iPhone: Open vs Closed

A few days ago I had a really interesting conversation with Sachin Agarwal, co-founder of Posterous, one of the hottest new blogging sites on the internet.  (If you haven’t checked it out yet, you have no idea what you’re missing).  We were discussing Apple, iPhones, and how much control over their iPhones users actually have, especially when it comes to what a user is “allowed” to put on their phones.  The conversation was just so good, I wanted to repost it here.

Bradley Farless said…

I enjoy my iPhone but Apple’s policies annoy the hell out of me too. They’ve given us an amazing piece of hardware but then not allowed us to actually use its full capabilities.

They’ve also told us that we’re not smart enough to make our own choices when it comes to what we want to install. They have to babysit us and make those decisions for us. I’m pretty sure I’m not a dumbass and I’m pretty sure I can decide on my own what I do and don’t want on my phone, and whether or not I want to see boobs in pocket-size goodness. It’s my damn right. I bought the thing. Why can’t I use it the way I want to?

Sachin Agarwal said…

The iPhone is an amazing piece of hardware/software/ecosystem *because* it is closed.

Only by controlling the entire experience can you make it as great as they did.

I love how my parents *never* need tech support with their iphones. If they could do anything with them, it would be a disaster.

Personally, there’s nothing i wish i could have on my iphone that i can’t get through apple’s system

Bradley Farless said…

Then perhaps the answer to everyone’s concerns is an opt-out method.

You either stay onboard with Apple’s “protected” experience, or you opt-out, and your guaranteed satisfaction is no longer guaranteed, not that people are always satisfied with the current iPhone anyway. But you see what I’m saying.

People want choice. They don’t want to feel limited in how they use something that they’ve paid for. This is essentially the same as Honda telling you that you can only drive your car within a 70 mile radius of your house after you’ve bought it and own it.

Sachin Agarwal said…

If Honda wants to set those rules, they have the right to. I’m not saying I like that, but I am saying that it’s their own ecosystem. If you don’t like it, buy a BMW 🙂

It’s really along the same lines as people wanting Disqus and other advanced features on posterous… we want to make the platform as flexible as possible, but sometimes you have to draw lines. It’s definitely hard

Bradley Farless said…

But Sachin, in that case you would have bought a car, not a license. Honda would have no more right to tell you how to operate that car than a home builder has to tell you what you may use each room in your house for. Once you buy it you own it and it’s up to the purchaser to maintain. If, on the other hand, we were purchasing licenses I could totally ‘get’ Apple monitoring what’s allowed on the platform (though they don’t do that with OS X and it’s still great) but this is a physical piece of hardware.

By the way, as far as Disqus goes, good move with keeping it simple and in-house but these days isn’t it more classy to at least support threading? 🙂

Sent from my iPhone

Sachin Agarwal said…

True, you are buying hardware, not a license.

So hack your phone and run whatever you want on it. You aren’t breaking any laws, Apple can’t really stop you.

But you can’t complain to apple because they aren’t welcoming you to mess with their device.

it’s like if you modify a car, you void the warranty. Granted you are right, at least you *can* modify the car if you choose to do so

Bradley Farless said…

Good analogy with modding the car. I shouldn’t have to “void the warranty” on my iPhone to add the apps I want to use on it though.

I still don’t feel good about having the Apple thought police telling me that I shouldn’t, let’s just use this as an example, have an app on my iPhone that acts as a remote control for a remote uTorrent program because it could possibly be used for copyright infringement. That was their argument with an ebook reader recently as well. They also won’t add apps that have any nudity because it doesn’t fit the company’s wholesome…. oh hang on while I close this porn site on Mobile Safari… anyway, it doesn’t fit the company’s wholesome values.

When you mod a car, you’re replacing parts to make it work in a new way. When you want to put whatever app you want on the iPhone, you’re just trying to use what’s already there to its full potential.

Now that I think about it more, there should be an app approval process, but the only tests done should be to make sure the program itself is sound, not the content.

Sachin Agarwal said…

Installing apps on an iPhone is more like adding a turbo charger to a car: you are trying to use what’s there (engine etc) to its full potential. But then when your engine explodes, your transmission dies, Honda is the one who gets the bad reputation. That’s what Apple is trying to avoid.

1. Yes there should be an app approval process. And yes, it should mostly be to make sure the apps run and don’t do anything malicious. I wouldn’t mind if apple was more lenient in what they allowed

2. It’s their platform and it’s an amazing experience. They should have the right to control it. Just like I have the right to control how Posterous works.

Bradley Farless said…

Well, I guess we both agree that there should be an app approval process, but only for keeping out malicious ones.

Your comparison between Apple’s right to control a piece of hardware and your right to control Posterous is a bit flawed though. Posterous is a platform. It’s free even. It’s not a physical product that I can hold in my hand and claim ownership of. The iPhone on the other hand is a piece of hardware (albeit with an OS inside) that, just like the MacBook Pro I’m typing this comment on, I have purchased and fully own. However, unlike my MacBook, it’s not left to my discretion as to what I put on my iPhone. It should be.

Do you think Apple would get away with it, or stay in business, if they had tried to keep a choke hold on the applications that are installable on Macs the way they’re doing with the iPhones?

They have no more right to say what I put on my iPhone than they do to say what I can put on the laptop they sold me. Once I own it, I own it. And the ability to freely install the software of my choice, even if it’s sometimes the wrong choice, hasn’t tarnished Apple’s image. There are always going to be stupid people, but the vasty majority know that if something goes wrong with a Mac, it’s 9 times out of 10 a user error, and that’s not Apple’s fault.

Sachin Agarwal said…

“the vasty majority know that if something goes wrong with a Mac, it’s 9 times out of 10 a user error”

I’m not sure sure that’s true. People always blame the platform. I know, based on questions I get about Posterous 🙂

Ok, so back to the main point:

When you buy an iPhone or a Macbook Pro, you are buying hardware. You can do anything you want with that hardware. I agree with this. So if you want to wipe your iPhone and install Android on it, go for it.

But by owning OS X on the Macbook Pro or iPhone, that’s a software license you own to run that software. You have to abide by the rules of that agreement. If that agreement says you can only run Apple software, then that’s how it is.

Now, please understand that I don’t necessarily agree with this. As you point out, this might be the downfall of the iPhone. If after a few years the Palm Pre improves, Android gets better, maybe the fact that the iPhone is closed will be what causes people to switch away.

Or maybe Apple will be forced to adapt and open the platform up (remember back when there wasn’t even an iPhone SDK? Now that’s closed!)

But for now, I’m quite happy with the closed Apple ecosystem, just as I’m happy with the Posterous ecosystem, or the fact that my BMW runs all the parts and software created by or approved by BMW, so I don’t have to worry about anything at all. Could they be more powerful? Yes. Is it worth it to me? No.

Bradley Farless said…

Well, user error usually gets blamed on something else, because no one likes to feel stupid. ^_^

I guess I can’t really argue with what you said about the license agreement. I think you’re right in that Apple may be forced to reevaluate its game plan when or if Android and Pre become more popular.

I guess it all just boils down to people wanting to feel like they actually own what they bought.

This argument is really starting to drag out to the point of almost being annoying. I won’t argue anymore for my side of things, as that’s basically what this whole post is about, but if you want to weigh in on it, feel free to do so in the comments here, or on the original post by clicking this link.