I'm interested in a good general overview.

How does iMessage actually work?

  • 2
    Can you specify a specific part of the iMessage system that you're interested in? Asking about the entire system is a little too vague. Please take a look at the FAQs for more info. Thanks. Commented Jan 24, 2012 at 2:56
  • 1
    There is no "trolling" going on here, your edit note is really quite rude. Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 6:09

2 Answers 2


In a nutshell, iOS sets up a persistent connection to the Apple Push Notification (APN) servers if you elect to use iMessage, iCloud, Notifications or other push services. From there, the phone checks in with the servers anytime it has a network connection and listens for messages that the servers wish to push to your device. Furthermore, iOS then registers which applications on your phone should get specific messages. All the messages pass through the notification center system in case you have elected for them to be posted to specific places such as the lock screen, the notification tray or just passed off to the end application for each message as appropriate.

That's it.

  • There's a server. (likely many behind a load balancer)
  • There's a connection that your device opens to the server.
  • Things can then arrive through the connection.

From a user perspective, this article should answer any questions you may have about iMessage:


This is a more technical explanation of how Apple's Push Notification system works:


  • Welcome to Ask Different! Answers on Ask Different need to be more than just a link. It's okay to include a link, but please summarize or excerpt it in the answer. The idea is to make the answer stand alone. Please take a look at the FAQs for more info. Thanks. Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 0:02

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