SMS bug

If you're awake and have looked at the Internet today, you've likely seen the end of the world as we know it played out in blog after blog because of a bug in the Android SMS application.  It's the same bug some of you have been dealing with -- messages end up going to the wrong contact when using the stock messaging application on your Android phone.  First things first -- it doesn't do other evil things like make your alarm not work, or delete your pictures, or brick your phone -- it only causes SMS messages to go to the wrong party, which is bad enough.  So you can safely ignore all the other scary things you've heard may happen, because they wont.  There's two issues here that need addressed, and an easy fix.  Follow the break to read more. [Google Code via Engadget]

We're not going to call anyone out here, nor are we going to use any sensationalist headlines or otherwise try to skew things any worse than they are.  We also aren't going to let Google off the hook -- this needs fixed, and yesterday would have been a good time to get it done.  We are going to try to explain what's going on, and what you can do if this is happening to you.

There is a bug (at least one) that can cause a SMS message to be sent to the wrong recipient. It's been out there a while, and apparently it wasn't fixed in Gingerbread.  The bigger problem is that very few people can reproduce it, and most of the bug reports are less than helpful.  None of us here has ever seen it, and believe me -- we've tried to recreate it, and the issue at Google Code page is full of conflicting reports that can't all possibly be true.  Besides the few obvious trolling attempts, you see reports claiming this bug sends SMS messages to people you know, but aren't in your contacts list, or people claiming that the phone number is correct, but the app sent it based on the MEID to the wrong person.  Plain and simple -- these types of issues aren't happening, and only cloud the real issue.  If you do experience this bug, you need to calmly, and more importantly, truthfully, submit the steps needed to reproduce it.  I know it's a total PITA if it happens to you, but emotions and bug reports don't mix.  Remember, there are millions and millions of Android handsets out there sending SMS messages all day long, and reports from a few thousand people with an issue makes tracking things down pretty difficult.  Add the fact that the huge majority of users (including the ones that write the code) aren't seeing it, and you can see how tracking it down is going to be difficult.  And after today's antics from the Tech community, it's likely that Google engineers will just go back to square one and re-write the app from scratch instead of finding the original issue.  That's what happens when your bug database is open to non-developers, and the public starts demanding blood.

So yes, there's an issue, and we all would like to see it fixed,  All software has issues, and it always will.  But there's an easy fix if this one's hitting you -- stop using the default SMS application.  Since you're using Android, you can use a substitute SMS application, or even use Google Voice for SMS.  Since we aren't having the issues we can't be 100 percent sure, but all reports seem to say that using Handcent or Chomp SMS will keep things in check, and using Google Voice bypasses the default messaging app altogether.  I've used Handcent (I think all Sprint Hero users have at one time or another) and can recommend it with no worries.  It's actually a big improvement over the stock app, and has a ton of options.  You can grab it below.

So calm down, the sky isn't falling.  Use a third party SMS app unless you would like to help the Android developers with proper, complete bug reports -- you can do that right here.  Not feeling Handcent?  That's OK, you have choices -- see what others have to say about SMS replacements in the Android Central forums.


Reader comments

The Android SMS bug -- what it is, and what you need to do


I've sent bug reports in. It would happen once or twice a week when I was using any 2.1 based ROM including stock. Since I started using 2.2 I havent had the problem. It would only happen if i had more than one thread of SMS's(?) going at once it wouls send to one of the other contacts i had a convo going with. never just a random contact from my list

That would explain why a buddy almost got fired when he claimed to have sent me an off color text that actually went to his boss.

Lol i wonder how many people have sent messages asking their bosses for drugs or asking for sexual favors haha

Since Google Talk, I send so few SMS anymore that I probably would never notice this had it not been mentioned here.

I posted in a thread in the Evo forum about how to reproduce it reliably. It's convoluted but can be done.

Please! Use the link above and write a sane, reproducible bug report in the right place! This is the kind of info needed to get things fixed.

So why not post a link so we can examine it? Have you also forwarded it to Google?

(I have never seen the bug happen on my Evo in 6+ months of use)

Wondering question, Has anyone reported this on say Cyanogen Mod? I know those guys go in and change alot of code to make things smoother and faster. So wondering if no one has reported it on their rom then maybe they have the fix already. Or one of the other many roms out there. Might be a good place to start.

I was wondering about that. When I was running the stock rom on my D2 I had an issue where I would try to open an sms thread and a different on would open instead. Since I've switched to Fission it hasn't happened since. Maybe Google should reach out to custom rom devs and see if the fix has already been found.

I've used both Handcent and Chomp SMS and never never seen that problem. I love Handcent and all the available options for customization.

Has never happened on my Evo in the 6 months since release. Sense does not use the default app, it has its own. See, Sense isn't so bad!

Wow engadget (AKA Apple/Jobs worshipers) ripped the heck out of android for this, of course. Google needs to fix this immediately.

Well seeing that the author of said Engadget post is a Nexus S user and before that a G2 user, it's a bit far fetched to call him an "Apple/Jobs worshiper" I love Android more than anybody else but they need to ripped for this as it's a major issue. Stop being a blowhard fanboy.

Hahaha nice! No that must be a mistake. Engadget editors are all super Apple fanboys according to pmas. Not fanboys at all, just objective.

Hmm, knock on wood, I've never seen this bug on the Eris, or the X. Through countless ROMs, and stock. But yes if this is truly happening to folks, it needs fixed ASAP.

BTW the stock sms on the Eris (VZW Hero) doesn't sleep, so I guess it's been using Handcent since I noticed that.

I get this bug or at least what I think is this bug at least 3 times a day! I am texting a lot seeing as how I am a teen. What happens is when I click on a contact thread it seems to go to the last contact thread I can see on my screen.

EXACT same problem i have. When I try to select someone's thread, it goes to the last person in my messaging contacts. But I normally recognize it because i look at their picture. It happens about 10 times a day. SOOO annoying. But I've never sent the wrong message to someone (knock on wood).

Same problem for me, I'll click on a contact to send a text to and it will end up opening another contact, the last in my messaging contacts. Very annoying, and sent my message to the wrong person a couple of times.

i hope this is the issue they are talking about.

because yes it has happened to me, and yes i have sent texts to ppl they are not originally for.

the ppl arent random at all, i always thought it had something to do with the touch interface,but it is only around in the stock sms program....

ill select a person at the top of the list, and it will bring up someone towards the bottom of the list. now ive learned to live with it,and pay attention more. but it would be nice having piece of mind.

Never had this problem in Eclair or Froyo. Trust Engadget to make a very big deal of this with a stupidly over the top headline and then explode my comment into a million tiny pieces.

So you dont think this is a very big deal? Even if its only happening to ten percent of phones thats ten percent too many. SMS is a core function of a phone and you should have full confidence that any message you send should go to its correct recipient.

"I know it's a total PITA if it happens to you, but emotions and bug reports don't mix" tell that to the guy who's wife got the text intended for his girlfriend :-0

right because it's Google's fault he's a cheating d*ck...

Seriously, I've you're going to fool around with multiple people when one of said people doesn't know, you deserve everything you get.

Haven't seen this on the D2. I hate to go to a 3rd party sms app. I like the stock app more than the 3rd party apps. Does anyone with a D2 have this problem?

I have a Desire HD. I use a modified 'New' Sense UI ROM (Android Revolution) which uses HTC Stock SMS app. Does this affect me? Or does this only affect those on Stock (Vanilla Android) ROMs?

This happened on my EVO several times, however once I switched keyboards it is no longer an issue.

OK... so I had this issue the other day, but i was using handcent? I'm using an unrooted EVO 4G and I've never used the stock messaging app. I've had an issue several times where handcent would freeze and purge all SMS messages. This time it did that and I picked up the last two threads I was using, but when I sent a message to one it sent it to the other? This happened until I restarted the phone and hasn't happened since.

I've had a G1 and currently a N1, and have never had this problem. My G1 has since been used by my gf and now my bro-in-law, and my gf now uses a G2. Neither of us have ever experienced this issue... and my gf and I are texting people all day every day.

This has happened to me on several occasions, but the problem was very specific. It only occurred when texting one particular contact and it would always go to the wrong contact, but it was the same wrong contact every time. Thankfully, the wrong contact was someone I rarely speak to, so I deleted him from my contacts and the problem ceased. was running stock dx.

This is weird and is making me paranoid. I recall sending a text to the wrong person twice but I don't know if it was the software or myself. I'll be more carefuil!

This is the first I've heard of this problem. I'm assuming it only applies to stock Android SMS and not HTC Sense or the Galaxy S line, right? I have not had this problem on my Incredible, and my gf's Fascinate also seems to be unaffected

I have noticed a similar problem in the recent calls list. As soon as you open the recent calls list, the phone calls are out of order in reference to the time they were received. And if you are too quick, as you press the "green phone" to call your mom back, the phone begins dialing who you think is your mom but end us switching, by the time you get the phone to your ear, to your ex! I'm thinking this may be occurring with the text messaging as well!

sorry for the long post.

That can't be a fix for this issue (or it didn't work, or it wasn't properly integrated into Android 2.2 or 2.3):

- It was committed in June (Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" came out in December).
- If you look at the diff the source comments say "this is a last minute fix for Froyo" (i.e. it's a fix for Android 2.2 "Froyo" but the bug is still there in 2.3 "Gingerbread").

I've had the DX since release and have never seen the issue. I've only used the default msg app and only S/R less than 50 a day.

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?

I had this happen yesterday. Here are the details as closely as I can remember:

HTC EVO4G on Sprint updated to Gingerbread.

Sent sms to Contact A in my address book.

Contact A recieved message (didn't reply as it wasn't necessary).

Contact B who was once in address book but was removed replied to my message.

This has happened quite a few times to me as well as others in my address book receiving messages I sent to someone else, and some have complained that the same message is sent to them dozens of times in a row.

Just a little bit more information on this matter.

I have an HTC Vivid running the original release of ICS and use the paid version of Chomp SMS. I love the app greatly. I did notice however, a picture I sent to someone went to a completely different person. It never showed as going to that person in Chomp or the native messaging app. I suspect another text went to another individual because I received no response from A but I received a weird reply from B.

There have been several cases that I suspect a message has gone to the wrong person, but I don't know for sure because there is not any way of knowing unless I ask the individuals.

I have heard many of my friends complaining about this, all with older OS's.

Just my 2 cents worth.

I am using XOLO Q800 model android OS phone. I sent message to my friend. But got message from same number stating that he/she is not the intended person. I confirmed with my friend it was not he who replied to the message. I was weird how this was happened. Can anyone give me a solution for this problem?

I have this kind of strange bug. Every time I send an sms to my son, my daughter receives it...they have a similar phone number (one digit of difference). Nothing solves this even deleting the numbers. I have a Samsung 3 phone.