Fun With Apple-ID Renaming Continues

I had a curious iOS support incident I want to share. Two weeks ago, a friend asked me for help with her iPhone.

The device was given to her by a relative who had apparently reset it by restoring a backup he made almost three years ago.

The backup contained a log-in to the relative’s iCloud account with Find my iPhone turned on. To put things in perspective: Find my iPhone was first launched in June 2010 and integrated into iCloud on its launch in October 2011.

Nevertheless, Activation Lock, the feature that prevents re-activation of an iPhone as long as it is marked locked by its owner, was not a thing until iOS 7. But – purposedly in the endeavor to make the transition seamless – Apple kept the label Find my iPhone for the switch in which now enables / disables Find my iPhone and Activation Lock simulatenously.

And this lead to the following problem: My friend’s device could not be restored (neither by iTunes nor from the iPhone itself) because it assumed Activation Lock was still enabled.

In case you did not know: Apple offers a web-form where you can check the Activation Lock status of your device. This page reported Activation Lock to be disabled.

Looking at iCloud settings on the device, the switch was enabled. Attempts to toggle it off failed with a try again error after the relative entered his password. It was not the kind of the occassional 503 HTTP status codes you get when Apple activation servers are down.

Also, on none of the relative’s devices were listed in the Find my iPhone webinterface.

I started to go through my catalog of questions I use to identify possible user errors. And indeed, after fifteen minutes of interrogation, there was the answer:

Oh, yeah, one more thing: I renamed my Apple-ID since I did that backup I restored on the phone.

To be clear: He had not just changed his primary e-mail address but indeed altered the username of the Apple-ID.

Please don’t do this. Just don’t. Absolutely. Never. I speak from experience.

So apparently, activation lock is out of sync with the server-side.

Luckily, putting the device into DFU mode and connecting it to iTunes solved the issue for this particular case.

However, it is simply embarrassing that Apple still has not figured out their user account system. Come on guys, this is known territory.