iMessage Should Have a Dead Battery Auto-Responder

Traditional SMS is a peer-to-peer system across multiple networks. Apple’s iMessage is a centralized system with a single network. This gives Apple the opportunity to do some interesting things, such as deliver read receipts, show typing status, and send high quality images over “text” messages. But it shouldn’t stop there.

Apple has the opportunity to build one of the greatest things about email into iMessage: auto-responders. Specifically, dead battery auto-responders. I’m thinking that it could work something like this:

  1. User opts into a service that allows their iPhone to transmit a quick signal upon a dying battery to Apple’s iCloud servers if network is available. This signal flips a bit in iCloud saying, “this device’s battery is dead.”
  2. User can set a message that gets blasted out to anyone who iMessages that account notifying the sender, “Hi, I’d like to respond, but unfortunately, the battery on my iPhone has died.”
  3. When the iPhone gets charged again, it sends a signal back to iCloud that flips the bit back, and the auto-responder becomes disabled.

One potential reason that Apple wouldn’t implement this feature is that it increases user awareness of dead iPhone batteries, but it’s certainly a great way to mitigate that helpless feeling of, “if only I could tell this person that I wasn’t receiving their messages!”

There’s also the fact that, yes, I could access my iMessages from other devices, but better safe than sorry.

It seems a little silly, but I was on the bus last week on the way to meet a friend who was visiting town, and I sure felt like a jerk knowing he had an unanswered message to me: “Are you on your way? Am I at the right place?”

I’ve filed a Radar feature request with Apple, and you can view it on Open Radar here. If you’re an Apple developer and you agree, feel free to dupe!


  1. vonskippy says:

    Luckily for most smartphones (except the iMeh’s) you can just swap out the battery with a freshly charged one – problem solved.  So nice of Apple to decide that it’s mindless horde wouldn’t need that feature.

  2. KK says:

    Erm, Any messages that are sent to dead phone won’t be marked “Delivered” until the phone comes on network/powers up. Isn’t that similar to what you need?

  3. Yep, this would be similar, but many (including myself) disable read receipts. It’s pretty common that I accidentally open a message, but I don’t have a response / a chance to respond yet, and I don’t want the person to think I’m ignoring them.

  4. bowerbird says:

    i’ve always thought that my iphone should shut itself off
    when it still had enough battery for a few phone-calls
    – so i could turn it back on and call anyone i needed,
    if only to tell them that my battery was now expired –
    rather than stay on until the juice was completely gone.


  5. KK says:

    I have disabled read receipts for the same exact reason. But read receipts are different. “Delivered” says that the message was delivered to the phone – not if it was read or not. “Read” flag (when enabled) tells us if the message was read or not.

  6. Michael Krasnow says:

    I don’t think this will ever happen, you can be signed into messages on a Mac, iPad, iPod, or even another iPhone  and receive messages from your phone. There would be no point in saying that device is offline because any number of other devices can access those messages.

  7. Tony Webster says:

    I’m not a huge fan of that, for probably an odd reason: if someone knows your battery is dead because they get that response, what a great time to break into your house.  Not only will you probably not be at home, but your neighbor calling you about the stranger in your yard won’t be able to reach you.

  8. JTon says:

    I think you’re missing the point. Even with a swappable battery, an Android could also benefit from this service. Say you phone dies in your gym bag, or on your desk at home while you’re watching a movie.

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