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Android Texts Take to Traveling

A known Android SMS issue can have tragic (or hilarious) consequences.

On one hand, I am amazed at how far phones have come since my childhood in the 1970s. On the other hand, I wonder, "What the heck just happened to my text?"

I love my Android phone, really I do. But sometimes it doesn't love me back, like when it hangs up on my friends because my cheek touched the screen, or it conference calls my voicemail or turns on the speaker because my hair or head hit a sensor. And forget about spellcheck! I turned that off when I caught it changing a text from a conference to Steven Vaughan-Nichols that was supposed to say, "It would be more fun if you and Zonker were here." Android fixed it to say, "It would be more fun if you and hooker were here." Good thing I caught that spelling correction.

Now it's something new: My text messages to my teenager keep hitting the wrong inboxes. Last weekend, I was enjoying myself at an outdoor car show when I received a text from my kid asking me whether we were getting rained on yet. A few minutes later, we were in the middle of a downpour. I responded via text, "In a tent." A few hours later, my real estate agent – who has been patiently helping us try to sell our house for three months – replied, "Wah?" Perhaps she thought I was upping the pressure for her to bring us a buyer before we started camping out in a new neighborhood.

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Today I received another text from my teen telling me that she got sick the second she arrived at school and was heading back home. Later I texted, "Home? Feeling ok?" She didn't reply, so after a while I started to text her again and noticed that my text to my teen had been delivered to the Marketing Director of a major shoe company. Maybe he thinks I'm just really thoughtful?

Because texting doesn't seem to be working so well, I took to Twitter and wrote, "My HTC Incredible keeps texting the wrong people – anyone else having this problem? It's random, as far as I can tell (no pattern)." A friend (@proflafferty) replied, "This is a known issue in Android. Kind of a big deal from a security/privacy POV. Maybe try GoSms?" Then @suehle wrote, "Known problem? Really?! That's a huge problem. I had it happen once, but I thought I just clicked wrong." Then she sent me a link to a December 2010 Engadget article about bugs in the Android text messaging system. The article said:

More seriously, though, there's also an open issue in Android's bug tracking system – inexplicably marked "medium" priority – where sent text messages can appear to be in the correct thread and still end up being sent to another contact altogether. In other words, unless you pull up the Message Details screen after the fact, you might not even know the grievous act you've committed until your boss, significant other, or best friend – make that former best friend – texts you back.

The article, written 36 weeks and 3 days ago, linked to the Google Code issue page, which had 1,821 comments when it was closed on June 23, 2011 "…because it is suspected of placing excessive load on one part of our server-side software for Google Project Hosting."

Have you heard any updates about this known Android text bug? More importantly, do you have any good tales of the traveling texts to share?

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