iOS 6 Finally Unifies Your Phone Number And Apple ID For iMessage And FaceTime

iOS 6 Finally Unifies Your Phone Number And Apple ID For iMessage And FaceTime

The way Apple currently handles FaceTime and iMessage across multiple devices doesn’t work. An iMessage is sent to your iPhone’s number, and it doesn’t show up in the Messages app on your iPad or the beta Messages app on your Mac. The iPhone is the only device that can be reached via iMessage or FaceTime by both a phone number and Apple ID. The iPad, iPod touch and Mac all have to use an email address. If an iMessage is sent to your iPhone’s number, it doesn’t show up on your iPad. So you have to tell your friends to use your Apple ID address for iMessage if you want it to work on all of your devices.

This is a severely flawed way of handling communication between devices, but the good news is that Apple has fixed this problem in iOS 6.

“We’re unifying your phone number and your Apple ID,” said iOS guru Scott Forstall at WWDC today. “So if someone calls you on your phone number with a FaceTime call, you can answer the call on your iPad or even your Mac. And we’re doing the exact same thing with iMessage.”

If you’ve experienced what I described above then you know how much of a godsend this change really is. You can now have one universal, unified contact for iMessage and FaceTime that will go with you from the iPhone to the iPad to the iPod touch to the Mac. The experience of iMessage and FaceTime across multiple devices is no longer fragmented. Hallelujah.

  • MacHead84

    What about married couples or families who share Apple iTunes account but all have separate iPhone phone numbers? Only one number can tie to a mac?

  • ApplePr0n

    This is a big change that was hardly addresses in the keynote. To finally be able to iMessage on my iPad and iPhone seamlessly is a very welcome change

  • TheMadTurtle

    MacHead – agreed, that is cause for my concern, precisely.  I think, though, that if you can tie different phone numbers to the alternate accounts, which you can setup under “Manage my Apple ID”, then we’ll be all set.  For example, my wife and I share an ID for purchases, but I use that ID on game center, while she uses an “alias” ID that we setup – an alias ID is still not the “main” ID, but you can associate various apps on your iOS device to the different IDs, in fact, that’s how my wife and I facetime each other now – she from her iPod and me from my iPhone.  As long as we can associate our different phone numbers with the different IDs we use, we’ll be ok, I think.

  • IamJAd

    PLEASE tell me this works for SMS too!

  • Forest Walker

    Hrm doesn’t appear to be implemented in beta yet… Still not hitting all devices…

  • garlandsmith

    this sounds awful… I hope they allow users to opt out…

    I like that I can keep iMessage completely separate to FaceTime and that I have separate “accounts” for each on separate devices…
  • Timothy Williamson

    What about married couples or families who share Apple iTunes account but all have separate iPhone phone numbers? Only one number can tie to a mac?

    II think you might be able to setup separate iCloud accounts for each user, and setup each user with a separate login ID on your Mac, then tie each user’s phone number to the separate iCloud accounts. Not sure, just a guess.

  • Barton Lynch

    I’m really excited for this feature!
    People that share Apple IDs should stop. I realize that you want to share purchases and things, but you can do that by authorizing the various accounts. It’s very easy
    Have your own ID, solve the problems.

  • fudgiebear

    Has anyone using iOS 6 Beta come up with a solution for Machead84? I have the exact same concern. My wife uses my Apple ID on her iPhone and iPad with an alias to direct the messages to her devices. Will she be able to attach her alias to her phone number or will I need to create a separate Apple ID just for her messaging. I want to keep the same ID for iCloud and iTunes.

  • fudgiebear

    Got my answer. I updated our iPhones and iPads to iOS 6 GM and it allows you to select from any combination of phone numbers and e-mail addresses now associated with your Apple ID for FaceTime and iMessage. Problem solved.

  • Aniq Shamsul

    This feature doesn’t work. Updated my iPhone to iOS6, updated my mac to the latest update and still the messages that people sent to my iPhone didn’t come out at my mac. Any help would be appreciated.

  • nickdonnelly

    Actually all this did for me was send friends iMessages from my email (which they dont have) – instead of my phone number (which they do have) – and confuse the hell out of them.

    Also an increasing number of messages just go missing (that do randomly show up on Messages in MacOS – but never show up on phone, or show up much later).

    This is screwing up my life – Im missing messages which is a major issue.

    This, maps, iCloud notes getting lost – what is going on with Apple software – whole thing is a mess.

  • fudgiebear

    Once you set up iMessage on your iPhone your phone number is linked to your master Apple ID. Any iOS and OS X devices you set up should be able to see any phone numbers and e-mail addresses linked to your master Apple ID. You can pick and choose which phone numbers and e-mail addresses receive/send iMessages on each device/Mac. It’s very flexible. If you want to use your phone number as your Caller ID you can set that up on each and every device now.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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