SMS bug

Since we ran the story about the SMS bug in Android, we've been hearing back from a lot of you with more hints, tips, and information.  First, I do want to thank each and every one who contacted us, and again remind you to be sure to add any helpful information to the Google code page about the issue.  Since this one seems to affect some more than others, it's very important that we all share what we know to be true with the masterminds in Mountain View.  Hit the break, where we share everything we've learned and heard so far, and keep the reports coming guys. 

Update: Commentor a1Will I Am brings up an excellent point -- a poll would be awful interesting.  We have one set up in the forums right here, everyone should vote so we know what kind of numbers we're dealing with here.

Handcent, or other third-party application

We're hearing three things about this, and it's a bit of conflicting information.  The first camp is saying that switching to Handcent or Chomp SMS fixes their issues.  Next, we have a group that tells us third party applications seemed to fix things at first, but things eventually reverted and the bug is back.  Finally, we have those that say third party application make no difference. 

A little frustrating?  You bet.  We strive to be helpful any and every way we can, you guys are like our extended family.  We still can't replicate these issues, even with some more information from a developer or two (more on that in a bit), so all we can say is try it.  If Handcent or Chomp fixes things for you, good deal -- but don't be alarmed if it doesn't. 

On the bright side it looks like Google Voice is good to go.  Install it, use it -- it's free and can even save you some SMS fees.

A possible way to duplicate the bug

Want to see if you can force this to happen?  We did, too.  Here's a method from Steven:

  • Start to compose a message
  • Get a notification in the status bar or a pop up that steals focus
  • Message will go to the wrong recipient

I tried a bunch of times, using Gtalk or mail notifications, and even phone calls and things still worked as intended.  But Steven's advice, as well as his other theories, sound very solid, so here's what he says you should keep in mind:

"If you are composing (e.g., writing or replying to) a message and something happens that takes focus from you (e.g., a new window pops up or something appears in the notification bar) then stop what your doing, quit the messaging app, and relaunch it and start writing your message again."

Steven also has another way he can recreate the bug.  Start up a high-speed texting session, where texts are coming in and out at the same time.  This will cause the bug for Steven.  This ties in with his above words of wisdom, so test number two began.

  • Get a willing partner.  Protip: Use your significant other -- telling them 100 reason why they're the best makes you both feel good :)
  • Start texting back and forth -- my wife and I each sent 100 messages to each other as fast as we could. 
  • Make sure messages are coming in while you're replying, and you may see the bug.

Since I'm a bit under the weather and we spent New Year's Eve quietly at home, we had fun with it.  Trying with Sense phones, stock phones, AOSP phones, BlackBerries, and an iPhone.  Nothing.  But again, what Steven is saying makes perfect sense, so I recommend you try if you want to duplicate his results.  Big thanks for all the information Steven.

Bug reports

A look at all the new comments on the Google Code page this morning was worrying to say the least.  Hundreds of "Me too!" comments hurt far more than they help.  Believe it or not, someone at Google has to read through each and every comment left, and reading through a ton of "FIX IT NOW!!!!!!!111!!!!!!!one!!" comments takes time away from fixing things.

If you can make this bug happen, either with Steven's methods above or your own way, get your tail over to the Google Code page and report in.  Just use plain language, say what you did, and what happened -- no need to try to be technical unless you're able.  All the Google Code page links here point to the same page, pick one and go.

If you can't recreate the bug at will, star the issue to bump it, then move on. Please DON'T leave some "Yeah, fix this! comment." Let the Googler's spend their time reading the helpful information instead of wasting it -- they know there's an issue, even without 500 posts telling them as much. 

The important thing is that now everyone (I assume everyone, I can only speak for myself) knows that it's not user-error.  I'll admit, I thought it was at first, and I have a gut feeling that folks at Google thought the same way.  It's not -- that's plain to see now, so lets get it fixed.


Reader comments

More about the Android SMS bug


Is this only affecting stock roms? or are custom roms at risk also? I don't see it happening to me at all and I'm running cyanogenmod 6.1.1 on my G2.

I have not had it happen on my stock Evo, but I tried Handcent just for sh!ts and giggles and I like it.

I am running CM 6.1.1 on My Nexus One. I only use handcent for text and this has not happened to me yet. I put the yet in there cause I am not 100% sure if it well not happen to me and I hope it does not lol... But for now I guess I'm one of the lucky ones... Yaaaaaay Android!!!!

Sorry for yoy guys out there that are having this problem.

Pro tip: Try to keep your texts PG you don't want to text your mother calling her a Douche bag and if you have a mistress, first of all shane on you and second do not under circumstances text her/him. Trust me... Things can go south very fast...

Can those affected by the bug confirm that it actually sent to the wrong recipient? I've seen this happen with Handcent before and it looked like I sent a message to the person who just messaged me instead of who I wanted to send it to, but just closing everything and opening it back up showed that it sent to the right person.

I have gotten some strange "wrong number" texts. I always thought it was careless kids not paying attention to who they were sending things to. The last one I got was "lemme buy those wrestling shoes from you". What do you say to that? They have to be this bug. I have gotten about 5 of these since June.

Do you actually know them? Because if they have your number in their contacts, then yes, it could possibly be this bug. Otherwise they really did have the wrong number (or somebody is giving out your number).

I had this issue a bit ago, day before Thanksgiving actually.

I was using HandCent at the time and would send the text to the wrong person after I sent an initial text. I uninstalled Handcent and still happened

I actually had to factory reset to fix it. No problems since.

I had this problem on my evo with 2.1 but when I updated to 2.2, the problem seemed to go away. Ive also been using handcent for quite a while. I always felt the stock sms app was horrible anyway. Needs a color change between my messages and my recipients messages.

I've never had this bug on my Nexus One using handcent. I actually never heard of it before these reports started coming out.

Every once in a while the same thing would happen on my BB (storm). I would get a text from someone asking "Who is this" I have not had this happen on my incredible, which I've had since it came out (pre-ordered). I've used many roms and kernels, most of the time using Handcent.

Was that person in your contacts?

Because the described bug does not just send to random people, it send to people in your address book, or who were in concurrent separate SMS

Word at phandRoid is the issue is now 'critical'. Great job getting this out in open! Now let's put the pressure on google to increase the resolution of contact photos that sync with google!

I've had an issue where if I reboot my phone it sometimes resends old text messages. And occasionally sends that old text to a DIFFERENT recepiant. Had my phone 1 year and this has happened about 4 times.

LoL critical issue, yet we are just hearing about it? I've never heard about it, much less experienced it. It is total bs. It couldn't be kept undercover for 6 months.

Never heard of or had this problem in the 3 months I've owned my Vibrant. Been using a custom ROM from day one with handcent then switched to chompsms about a month ago. I wonder if custom ROMs are indeed immune to this bug.

This has happened to me on my droid x using handcent. Was texting my buddy about plans one night and went to my girlfriends mom.. Things did not go well that night.

used to have this happen on my g1 way back in the day, started using chompsms and it solved it as far as i could tell. more than an year later using an evo with a gingerbread rom and chomp it doesn't happen.

i do work with quite a few people with captivates and droids, using the stock messaging app they complain about it once or twice a week.

This is a real problem. I have not seen this pop us yet on any of my devices. Hopefully, Google addresses this with an update sooner than later.

Hey phil, or jerry, can you make a Poll for who has and has not had this bug? and (if at all possible) what device they are using.

I had this happen once a long time ago but not recently. I'm running the CyanogenMod ROM with Handcent and it works like a champ.

"How would one know if they are having this problem? Is it clear that the texts aren't going to the intended recipient? I've been texting lately and haven't noticed anything out the of norm. So tell us, is this issue clearly visible that it's happening on your phone when you SMS someone?"
Repost of DM_DROID from other article.

I would like to know too. Does that bug pic pop up on the screen?

No, that bug pic was just my idea of a catchy headline picture. As I understand it, you don't see anything -- your message just goes to someone else.

I have used Handcent since practically Day One of getting my Dinc. I switched to Handcent because I was used to being able to customize my SMS and MMS with my Storm 1. I haven't knowingly sent a text to the wrong person ...of course perhaps it's happened and I don't know about it. If Google has known about this for a while, why isn't it fixed?
Running stock Froyo.

Oh, and I'm running Stock Froyo too. Not enough of a brave tinkerer to Root my phone. Everything works fine as is out of the box and with some apps. Good enough for me.

I have had this happen 7 or 8 times. I was using Handcent so I thought at first it might be that. It has happened on the stock messaging app and go sms as well. I will send a text to person 1, person 2 with respond usually with a ?. I will check messages and phone will show message sent to person 1 who actually never received it. I have a Droid Incredible running stock 2.2

I have also had issues with Handcent AND stock messaging app.

Stock messaging, like erbody else, sends to person not intended.

Handcent (which I dl'd after reading this blog entry) sends to the correct person, but upon incoming text, the notification 80% of the time says it's sent from the wrong person.

Both of these are rather annoying.