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.