A new issue is plaguing an undetermined number of iOS 12 users. But this time, the problem isn’t necessarily a bug — instead, it appears to be intended behavior.
There’s currently a growing amount of reports detailing the issue, which was first spotted and brought to light by PiunikaWeb. Apparently, iOS 12 is intentionally merging two different contacts into a single message thread for some users.
That may not sound like a problem, but reports indicate that it is not a group message thread. Instead, iOS 12 appears to be treating different people with different phone numbers or email addresses as a single contact.
Impacted users can only text the last person in these merged threads, and it can be hard to tell who actually sent a single message.
For example, a single text message may be sent to multiple contacts — like a person’s spouse and their child. Similarly, return messages from that hypothetical spouse and child are also being grouped into a single contact thread.
It’s currently unknown how widespread the issue is, but it does seem to be fairly common. Over 660 users are reporting that they have the problem on a single Apple Support Communities post (and there are other posts reporting the problem, too). There are also anecdotal reports on Twitter detailing the issue.
does anyone know how to fix this ios 12 bug that merges two contacts together bc my mum & sister are now under the same text thread thing so i gotta message my sister under snapchat now
— elyza (@sanscery) September 27, 2018
@AppleSupport I am experiencing problems on ios 12 where two iMessage conversations I am having are combined into one thread. When I try and text one separately, they all end up back in the same thread under the name of the person that texted me last. Do you have a solution?
— Tyler (@livlikeverdeyen) September 25, 2018
Any iPhone users experience this new issue (since latest update) where iMessage keeps merging two totally unrelated message threads to totally different people or know how to fix it?
— Kenneth W. Cain (@KennethWCain) September 22, 2018
How Is This Possible?
As far as why the problem is impacting iOS 12 users, it’s not entirely clear. But there does seem to be a common thread among those affected: Basically, the issue appears to be impacting immediate family members or those who share a single Apple ID.
Apparently, this is a new feature quietly added to iOS 12 that is meant to improve iMessage. The operating system update will automatically group together communication from a single Apple ID.
That’s obviously handy if you’re chatting with someone who has two different phone numbers and separate email addresses. It streamlines and simplifies communication.
But it is also causing headaches for families who all share a single Apple ID.
Apple has also reportedly confirmed to an affected user that this is intended behavior, PiunikaWeb reported.
While there are sporadic reports of the problem affecting users with different Apple IDs, we cannot independently confirm this.
Don’t Share an Apple ID
It’s much more likely that the problem is tied to iOS 12 grouping different contact numbers that are associated with a single Apple ID. Of course, any merged threads occurring for users who do not share Apple IDs could be an actual bug.
Worse still, the merged contact issue appears to persist even after users disassociate numbers or addresses from an Apple ID.
Though it may work for some families, sharing an Apple ID among multiple people is not recommended. For example, there are other, more efficient ways to monitor a child’s activity or App Store purchases.
At this point, there does not appear to be a fix or workaround for the merged contacts. But it’s likely that Apple is aware of the issue and could release some sort of mitigation or fix in a future version of iOS 12.