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Google Reveals Android SMS Trouble Was Two Bugs

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Google has fixes ready for two separate SMS bugs in Android, which it says only appeared rarely

Android has the answer to SMS problems reported by Android users, and will ship out fixes to what turns out to have been two separate bugs, according to a posting on its forum pages.

At least six months ago, users reported that SMS messages were being sent to the wrong recipients, with sometimes embarassing results.  In December, after an Internet campaign by angry users, Google uprated the bug from “medium” to “crtical”, and has now produced a fix and an explanation.

This is two rare bugs, says Google

“We believe there are two distinct situations being discussed on this issue chain,” said Google in a post on the bug’s thread in its forums. “Fortunately, we have fixes for both of them.”

The search giant had problems isolating and understand the problem, because the problem is rare, and users on the forum were confusing two separate SMS issues, both of which could result in messages going astray, Google said.

In one problem, users tap an SMS in their Messaging application, and a different message opens. Using Reply to send a message this way could result in a message going to the wrong person, Google said. “Of course, double-checking the displayed message before hitting ‘Send’ will prevent any messages from being sent to the wrong recipients,” said Google.

The problem apparently sorts itself out if you wait until the message is fully loaded, and Google is going to deliver a fix for it.

A minor bug?

The bug which sends SMS messages to random people is real, said Google, though “it took us some time to reproduce this issue, as it appears that it’s only occurring very rarely.” The fix to this bug will also be deployed soon.

“While we don’t anticipate any persistent problems, we’ll continue to investigate in case we come up with additional ways to trigger these bugs,” concludes the Google post, thanking users for their patience.

Some people have pointed out that the majority of the people starring and commenting on the issue in the Android forums have not themselves experience the bug, and many don’t even own Android phones. The flood of messages was labelled as “trolling” by forum users.

“A minor bug at worst, reflecting the tiny number of people reporting it – relative to the 47m Android handsets sold in 2010,” commented eWEEK reader Chris Puttick on our story last week.

Some users may not be so patient. “Today I sent a text asking about a contract from a potential employer – AND IT WENT TO MY CURRENT BOSS,” said one user. “If this huts my career, I will be looking into legal action.”