Q: My wife and I both have iPhones, although hers doesn’t actually have a plan on it – she basically just uses it over Wi-Fi when she’s at home. I’m wondering if there’s some way we can exchange text messages when I’m away from home. My iPhone has a normal voice plan, but I don’t pay for data as I’m near Wi-Fi often enough. I tried sending a text from her iPhone to mine, but it seems to shows up on both iPhones as if it’s from me. I should also probably mention that we’re using the same Apple ID on both devices as we share iTunes purchases, calendars, and contacts. Can this be done? I’d appreciate any advice you can give me.
A: This is a slightly tricky situation, but it’s actually sort of doable, with a few caveats.
As long as both devices are on Wi-Fi, you will be able to exchange iMessages, since these travel over the Internet in much the same way e-mail does. The key trick, here, however, is that both devices ideally should be using different Apple IDs for iMessage, since your Apple ID essentially defines the “from” address. If your wife is using the same Apple ID as you, she’s actually sharing ALL of your iMessages—her iPhone is basically just another device on your account, and everything will get synced to it.
The good news is that the Apple ID used for iMessage is not tied to other areas of your iPhone like the iTunes Store or iCloud. So you can continue sharing your personal Apple ID with your wife for everything else, but setup her own ID for iMessage. If your wife doesn’t already have her own Apple ID, you’ll need to create one first on the web by going to http://appleid.apple.com and selecting the option to Create an Apple ID.
Once you’ve done that, go into Settings app on your wife’s iPhone, choose Messages, and tap the Send & Receive option. This will show your Apple ID and the addresses that are currently being used for sending and receiving iMessages. Tap on your Apple ID and choose the “Sign out” option from the pop-up dialog that appears.
This will disable using iMessage with your Apple ID on your wife’s iPhone, and you can then tap the “Use your Apple ID for iMessage” option to sign back in with your wife’s Apple ID. You might also want to do this for FaceTime while you’re at it, since you’ll need separate Apple IDs to place and receive FaceTime calls as well.
Once this is setup, you will be able to exchange messages between your iPhones whenever both of you are on a Wi-Fi network. You will only be able to exchange iMessages with your wife’s iPhone, however, since she doesn’t have any kind of plan on her phone. iMessages travel through Apple’s servers over the Internet, while standard SMS text messages travel over your cellular carrier’s network. Your wife can address messages to your phone number, but these will still be iMessages traveling over an Internet connection between both devices. In other words, if you’re away from a Wi-Fi network, you will not receive messages from your wife’s iPhone, even if she’s sending them to your phone number. That said, iMessages are normally queued up until you’re back in Wi-Fi coverage, so if you’re temporarily away from Wi-Fi, you should still receive them whenever you’re back online.