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T-Mobile launches iMessage-incompatible 'Digits' virtual phone number beta

Wireless carrier T-Mobile has started a beta of Digits —a service that allows multiple phone numbers to be utilized in conjunction on one device, or one phone number to be shared across multiple devices on a carrier-level. The company recommends, however, that beta participants disable iMessage while using it.




According to T-Mobile, the service is a complete solution that allows a single phone number to "light up virtually any Internet-connected device, lets you use multiple numbers on one device and delivers carrier-grade calling."

The system is built around a new IP Multimedia Subsystem management layer, and assigns an identity to a customer, not a SIM card associated with a device.

"This solution will work across pretty much anything. I'd almost go so far as to say any consumer electronics device," said T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray about comparisons to Apple Coherency and Google Voice. "There are no constraints as there are with these other systems."

The fact that Digits is currently incompatible with iMessage is a likely constraint for Apple testers, however. T-Mobile recommends people disable iMessage functionality for the smoothest experience. It's not known if this problem will extend to the full release.

The feature is built-in for Samsung's Galaxy S6 and later. Apple users can try the beta with an app on the iOS App Store, or via Firefox and Chrome browsers.

When the project exits beta, there will be an additional, as yet undisclosed charge for the service.



Active T-Mobile postpaid customers with Simple Choice or T-Mobile One can join the test. Mobile requirements include Android 5.0 or iOS 9.0.