Pairing Historical Text Messages With New Phone Numbers

Apple Messages Should Combine Old Contact Information With The New

The Problem

Every so often people change their phone numbers, but when those numbers have been used for texting, their recipients’ Messages threads will become disconnected from any new texts, since Apple currently doesn’t support migrating a Messages thread from one number to another number, nor tying a Messages thread to a contact and interleaving all communications.

The Solution

First of all, Apple should coalesce all threads associated with a contact into a single Messages thread.  If a person has a new phone number, any text messages would then remain in the same thread, possibly including some notation similar to how the date and time when a text message was sent are shown.

Secondly, Apple should add a value like “historical” to a “type” key that can be associated with a phone number, email address, or other piece of contact information in the underlying vCard data.  An end-user would just choose a check box or other affordance to mark the item as no longer in service.  For apps like Messages that use such contact data, this flag would keep further texts, calls, or emails from going to that destination (and not accidentally annoying the new owner), but keep it around for cases where it has already been used.

Thirdly, Apple should add vCard entries that mark which contact information should be the preferred method for certain classes of apps.  An end-user would just choose a check box or other affordance on an item to say, “Use this for Messages.”

These changes should be made across all of Apple’s platforms and iCloud, and the changes added to the vCard data should be published so other developers on other platforms may use the same conventions.

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