Apple’s Latest Text Glitch Is Bending the Space-Time Continuum

Confused woman looking at iPhone.
When are we? Thinkstock/fizkes

In my day, conversations used to work a certain way. One person would say a thing, and then the other person, if this was a two-party conversation, would respond. And so on, until the conversation was over. If only we’d appreciated this pleasing linear quality more while we had it. These days, that a conversation will proceed in chronological order is no longer a given, thanks to Apple’s iOS.

This has been the winter, and now, the early spring, of a curious, sporadic iPhone bug that sneaks into your iMessage and renders your once-neat threads all topsy-turvy. Questions get answered before they’re even asked. Group texts, especially, require advanced deductive reasoning skills to decipher. Before long, the expectation that we’re all living in the same timeline completely disappears. And just as soon as you notice it, the bug goes away, only to pop up again a few weeks later.

iPhone owners began reporting the problem en masse in December (though some say it dates back even further, to the release of iOS 11 in September). Despite Apple Support threads and news posts calling out the issue, not to mention a supposed fix from Apple itself, it has persisted into late March. Apple did not respond to Slate’s inquiry asking why this is happening, how many users are being affected, or when they can expect it to go away.

It’s been a buggy few months for iPhone and iMessage users, who in November had to contend with a glitch that replaced lowercase i’s with question marks in boxes or A’s with horizontal lines next to them. Both that �nc�dent and this one show the degree to which one company has a stranglehold on our culture. If Apple does away with the letter i, we’ll live with it. If Apple decides that chronology is no longer relevant to text conversations, we’ll find a workaround. Anything rather than have to suffer the alternative: life without an iPhone.