Apple iMessage and Virtual Phone Numbers
Apple iMessage is one of the safest ways to communicate. It is an end-to-end encrypted messaging service. It is exclusively available on Apple iPhones, iPads, and Mac products. iMessage uses your data connection, so it is available in more places. SMS must use a mobile network connection, limiting availability. If you have WiFi but no cell service, you can still get messages via iMessage but not SMS messages.
Customers worry that iMessage stops working when they port, or transfer, their phone number to Tossable Digits. This is a well-founded concern! Apple limits phone numbers on an Apple ID based on the SIM card installed in the iPhone or iPad. Apple deletes the SIM card phone number from the iMessage configuration when you swap or remove that SIM card.
You cannot add Virtual Phone Numbers to an Apple ID or iMessage configuration. However, you can continue to use iMessage with Virtual Phone Numbers.
Keep iMessages Flowing
So you are porting your number to Tossable Digits. Awesome, and thank you! Here are some ways to keep existing iMessage conversations going after your number transfer is complete.
Apple deletes the SIM card phone number from iMessage when you remove your SIM card after you’ve left the country. Adding a new SIM card and phone number will add that number to iMessage. However, the phone number might not be automatically enabled for iMessage.
A few days before you leave the country, it is time for an iMessage config change. Change your iMessage settings to “Start New Conversations FROM” your Apple ID email, or another associated email. This will ensure that conversations that you’ve already started using iMessage will continue to work.
Once you arrive at your destination, keep the email option selected. For new contacts with iPhones, Messages will automatically use iMessage. New contacts will have your iMessage email. iMessage will keep working even when you switch SIM cards again. If a contact does not have iMessage, Apple Messages will automatically send an SMS from your SIM card phone number.
Update iMessage Settings
You want to retain iMessage conversations when your phone number and SIM card change. Here are steps to modify to your iMessage settings in IOS 14 or earlier:
- Open the Settings App
- Scroll Down to the 5th Section of Options
- Select Messages
- Ensure iMessage is On
- Click Send & Receive — 2nd option down
- Select the email address you want to start new iMessage conversations from
You can add or remove emails and some phone numbers from your iMessage configuration. Apple Support details multiple ways to do this.
Moving from SMS to iMessage
Ask new and existing contact for an email listed on their Apple ID and iMessage configuration. This way, if they change phone numbers, your conversations will continue via iMessage without interruption.
Sometimes new contacts will send you an SMS outside of iMessage. The SMS notification may be on our website, via email, or in our mobile app. You can move the conversation from SMS to iMessage.
When you start a new conversation in the Messages app, your device decides if the recipient’s phone number supports iMessage. If the message appears with a blue background, iMessage is working. If the message is green, it is using the SMS mobile network.
The best way to move a conversation from SMS to iMessage is communication. Ask the contact if they use an iPhone or iPad. If so, have them start a NEW iMessage conversation with your Apple ID email. Or ask them for their email associated with iMessage, and start a NEW iMessage conversation with that email.
Security versus Ease of Use
Apple takes privacy and security very seriously. Apple only allows phone numbers on the installed SIM card, or on the eSIM, to work with iMessage.
It would be great if you could add ANY of Tossable Digits’ Virtual Phone Numbers to your iMessage configuration! However, Apple does not allow this. It allows a bad actor to add an unauthorized phone number to iMessage. They could send and receive encrypted messages to other people. Without the owners knowledge! An SMS verification at the time of the addition cannot prevent misuse.
Virtual, home, and work phone numbers, cannot be added to an Apple ID or iMessage configuration. This is done for your safety and security. Only when the phone number is associated with the installed SIM card can it be added.
Apple DOES allow you to add multiple email addresses to iMessage. To remain anonymous, create a bunch of free email accounts and add to iMessage. When starting new iMessage conversations, choose one of these. It can be a hassle to switch between them, but it is possible.
Keep Using iMessage after Porting
Virtual Phone Numbers provide people with an inexpensive and powerful way to keep phone numbers active in other countries. It is very affordable compared to keeping wireless or landline phone service active. Plus additional free features keep your communications going. You can continue to send and receive SMS messages, calls, and get Voicemails at the same time.
You retain the power and privacy of iMessage’s end-to-end encryption while using Virtual Phone Numbers simultaneously. A small tweak in messaging habits and configuration is all it takes.