Rant: The hell that is iOS 7 Visual Voicemail on AT&T
Visual Voicemail and iOS 7 don't play nicely together, at least not on AT&T. Complaints about it are all over the internet, and I've been suffering with it since September. So, I decided to do some digging. After researching online and wasting time on the phone with AT&T, I've realized how much of a breakdown in communication there is between phone makers and the carriers.
The first problem, which started almost immediately after iOS 7 came out (but not so immediately that I could blame it as the sole culprit), left me unable to delete voicemail messages from Visual Voicemail. I tried several things to remedy the issue on my own, from resetting network settings to trying to trick Visual Voicemail by deleting the voicemails while in Airplane Mode. No matter what I did, eventually they all came back. So, I tried calling into AT&T's voicemail system and deleting the messages that way. Then I reset network settings again and rebooted my iPhone. The result? Still there. Every last one of them. Next, I popped my SIM card into another iPhone 5s that was restored to factory defaults. All the voicemails popped right up. I couldn't delete them from that iPhone either. I replaced it with another SIM and the issue disappeared on both phones. This ruled out the problem being device related and also proved that it happens on a case-by-case basis that is in no way tied to a specific iPhone, at least on AT&T.
I called AT&T in order to see if they could resolve the issue, or at least if they knew what was going on. That one call turned into many calls to AT&T. Fast forward through about three voicemail resets, deleting VVM altogether from the account, and about 10 iPhone reboots, and I was right back where I started. AT&T had no answers for me. They claimed none of the messages were actually on their server. Since I could still play them back, however, they had to be somewhere.
The second problem started a few weeks later. I stopped being able to record a greeting. The Phone app either crashed or would cut out mid-stream. It took almost an hour of frustration to get one to fully record, or so I thought. Little did I know it was still cutting the recording off. Apparently, according to callers, even though the full greeting played back for me, it was actually using a cut off earlier version that I never even saved.
Something broke with iOS 7 and AT&T has yet to submit a carrier update to Apple in order to fix it.
So, I asked some Apple employees what was going on. Most of them seemed familiar with the issue and the general consensus was that AT&T is mishandling the communication to the Visual Voicemail service. Something broke with iOS 7 and AT&T has yet to submit a carrier update to Apple in order to fix it. I don't pretend to know how carrier updates work or who's in charge of those, but based on what I've experienced, this makes sense to me.
A quick internet search told me that AT&T alone activates well over five million iPhones each quarter (conservative count). We also know that iOS 7's adoption rate was at 78% at the end of the year. That makes it highly likely that there are a ton of AT&T iPhones on the market running iOS 7. And they're not getting proper support for a feature that launched in 2007 with iOS 1. (iPhone OS 1.0.)
The maddening thing is this: If Visual Voicemail really is jacked because of AT&T and iOS 7, we're just going to have to wait for AT&T to push out a carrier update to fix it. And if you're having the same problem on your carrier, guess what? You're going to have to wait for them to update as well. iOS 7 came out almost four months ago. Four. Months. Complaints have been constant since then. What possible excuse could they have for not pushing out an update already?
If you're having a problem with Visual Voicemail on iOS 7, know that you're not alone, and let me know all about it in the comments!
Have you had issues with Visual Voicemail and iOS 7 on your carrier? If so let us know what you've experienced and whether or not it ever got resolved by either Apple or your carrier.