I think my girlfriend is using facetime to talk to an ex-boyfriend so that it does not register as a call on our joint phone bill. (Or I'm the one worried about my secret relationships being spied upon and don't want to have someone knowing with whom and when I'm communicating to others by reading a phone bill).

Can someone explain if iOS can be set up to force and/or eliminate the possibility that something being sent as an iMessage would cross over into being sent as an SMS message?


iMessage will use sms/text messaging if the data link to the Apple servers are non-functional. You can configure the phone to send as text by default.

Note that all text messages on the phone are stored in a sqlite3 database file, so if you are concerned and want to access that information, performing an unencrypted backup of the phone will give you a copy of the sqlite3 database file. Though you would need to isolate it from the thousands of other files, all identified with a hash filename. Not that hard, actually.

The other option would be to jailbreak the phone and cd into the app folder for iMessage and access the messages database.

In either case, in answer to your original question, if access to the iMessage servers at Apple are inaccessible, then the phone will default to sms/text messaging.

Note, if someone wants to communicate secretly, there are plenty of apps for that. Plenty of Visual/Audio chat programs out there that completely bypasses the phone log systems.

If they are using FaceTime, then there is no need to use sms/text. Ie, the communication is all happening through the Apple servers.

If they delete it from their logs, then, depending on whether the log entry was purged or just flagged as not displayed, the entry may be recoverable. However, chances are, it's not recoverable.

IF your intention is to find out/keep track of someone's communication, then the only real practical way is to gain additional access to their phone. Ie, jailbreak and then installation of additional code.

One way to say retain the call logs, be they via sms/text or imessage, or factime, would be to:

  • Have a script or program continually locate the sqlite3 database for the iMessage app as well as the sqlite3 database for the Addressbook. The location changes in the event of iMessage being updated. Or an OS update.
  • Periodically backup the sqlite3 database and the addressbook database.
  • Have those copied to your private server somewhere.
  • Perform SQL queries against the databases to correlate which imessage goes with which addressbook entry, then generate a report based on the timestamps and correlated information.

If you want to do this without Jailbreaking the phone, you can write and publish an iOS app, which requests and accesses the Addressbook and the iMessage interfaces to achieve the same thing.

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    Thank you! If the recipient of the imessage was using facetime would that cause the imessage to send as SMS? Is there a way to look at a history of facetime on a phone if the user deletes the call history? Thank you again for your help! – SmyPs Apr 24 '13 at 17:23
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    If you're looking to spy on someone, just come out and say that in the requirements of the question. Even if people don't like the concept, it would be useful for someone to learn how not to be eaves dropped upon or spied upon as we explore what is logged where and how/when. – bmike Apr 24 '13 at 18:14
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    Steve - Since you're new - I went ahead and added the detail I was hoping you had in mind (and colored it as a more useful question for anyone rather than being tailored exclusively to your current situation). Let me know if I can help further or guessed wrongly what you had in mind. I think it's a very good question that deserved a minor tweak so that people know what sort of answer you intended to receive. – bmike Apr 24 '13 at 18:21
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    I always wondered what the B in @bmike was for... :D – Dan J Apr 24 '13 at 18:23
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    I have her listed with emojis in the begining her name and emojis at the end. I'm not sure how to check to see if I'm using my apple id or my phone number. We are both on Iphone 5s that we bought at the same time – SmyPs Apr 25 '13 at 19:59

Sometimes an iMessage goes through as a text message when you have limited Internet service or when the other person does. By this i mean either there's no service where either of you are or 1 bar that keeps dropping out.

Sometimes it also occurs when the other person blocks you. If you message them but you have been blocked, the messages will come through to them as text, not as an iMessage.

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