Computerworld | Mar 2, 2016
Here’s how the bug makes its presence known. (And, yes, it’s an intermittent bug, which is tech support’s favorite phrase.) Let’s say you just downloaded 50 email messages. As you scan your mobile inbox, you notice four messages that you need to respond to right away. The others are junk that you want to delete now so that you can focus on the critical ones.
You then choose “Edit” and select everything other than the four important messages. You select “Trash” and, poof! Everything disappears. But wait, I specifically did not delete those four crucial messages. What happened?
When this delightful bug first hit me, I thought that I might have accidentally selected the “Delete All” option within the latest iOS email. When it happened again, though, I was ultra-careful and it did the exact same thing.
Why am I saying the critical messages (the ones you deliberately chose to not delete) are hidden and not deleted? That’s where this mess gets interesting. Despite having an inbox with no messages in it, I backed out to the top-level email screen. Instead of it showing what I expected—zero unread messages in the inbox—it said that there four unread messages. I have run into this bug more than 50 times (have been working with Apple support on this since late last year) and it always presents itself identically. The number of “unread messages” is always the number of messages I told it to not delete.
The bug has one last attribute. Several hours after it mischievously hides your critical messages, it kind of sort of returns. It displays this iOS dialogue box: “Unable to move messages. The messages could not be moved to the mailbox Trash” and then it restores all of your recently deleted messages, including the ones that you wanted to save and were hidden.
Of course, that happens hours after you needed the messages.
As I said, I have been working with various levels of Apple tech support on this for months. For the record, I also checked with various members of Apple media relations—voicemail, email messages and even a Twitter note—and never received a response.
It’s worth noting that I discovered this glitch right after Apple introduced the long-delayed “Delete All” function for its email. My immediate suspicion was that the two were related.
This is a serious problem, as mobile devices are rapidly morphing into a power user’s main email access unit, rather than the supplemental way smartphones were used a few years ago in enterprises.
The workaround is unpleasant. When I see a crucial email on the phone, I choose to not delete any messages until I no longer need that message.
Hence, Apple really needs to make this glitch go away. First, though, it needs to admit that it exists.
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