iPhone 1.1.3 Update Raises Text-Messaging Bug - InformationWeek

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1/27/2008
11:30 AM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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iPhone 1.1.3 Update Raises Text-Messaging Bug

The latest iPhone firmware update, pushed out by Apple in mid-January, is raising a raft of bug reports on Apple's own iPhone forums, with dozens of posters complaining that it messes up SMS (text message) conversations, causing them to appear out of order. The glitch is all the more vexing given that the 1.1.3 update was supposed to help iPhone users send SMS messages to multiple people. For Apple's part, it has posted a support document admitting that "SMS messages may be displayed in the wron

The latest iPhone firmware update, pushed out by Apple in mid-January, is raising a raft of bug reports on Apple's own iPhone forums, with dozens of posters complaining that it messes up SMS (text message) conversations, causing them to appear out of order. The glitch is all the more vexing given that the 1.1.3 update was supposed to help iPhone users send SMS messages to multiple people. For Apple's part, it has posted a support document admitting that "SMS messages may be displayed in the wrong order," but it's not calling it a bug.In fairness, not everyone appears to be impacted by the glitch. It seems to affect mainly customers of O2 in England, which comprise the majority of complainants on the Forum. On the other hand, the reports first surfaced on Jan. 15, Apple issued its support document copping to the problem on Jan. 21, but as of Saturday, Jan. 26, iPhone users were still posting complaints and expressing unhappiness that Apple hadn't addressed the issue to their satisfaction.

Here's a quick history; go to the Forum thread, entitled "SMS Conversations 1.1.3," to see for yourself. (That's assuming it's not taken down, which is what happened in September, when I reported about forum postings threatening class-action lawsuits over Apple's iPhone bricking tactics. Incidentally, according to the iPhone authority extraordinaire Erica Sadun, the 1.1.3 update kills off any unauthorized third-party apps one has managed to maintain on one's phone, despite Apple's best efforts. So perhaps that's the true purpose behind the 1.1.3 update, and the SMS fallout is simply an unintended side effect.)

OK, back to the history. Here's the initial, Jan. 15 bug description from an Apple iPhone forum denizen named "xmarkzdasp0t":

"I have a question, ever since I have upgraded to 1.1.3 my SMS conversations become unordered. example: a conversation before I upgraded would be like: me: hi friend: wats up me: nothing

But now, after I respond to my friend, my message instead of being displayed under his message like it was before it is now like this: me: hi me: nothing friend: whats up

So I'm wondering if anyone else is experiencing the same problems and what can I do about it."

Replied "snowace56": "I am having the exact same problem and it is driving me insane!!!" (In a subsequent message, the xmarky guy added: "As a textaholic this is really annoying." I can relate.)

Someone named Muckypaws appears to have figured out what the deal is, and why it wasn't caught by Apple on a cursory test before they pushed out the 1.1.3 update : "If you send a text and the recipient replies whilst you still have that contacts messages open, it appears ordered. When you leave the contact and go back in again, then the messages are out of order, but only for new messages, previous history prior to 1.1.3 are intact."

Mr. Snowace56 went to tech support to see if anything could be done about it: "OK, so I spent the past hour on the phone with iPhone tech support. Which I can safe to say was a HUGE waste of time. I did a complete restore/uninstall/reinstall of iTunes and iPhone software. There is no fix right now and the dumb [word deleted] blamed it on AT&T. After getting annoyed long enough I gave up. I got her to admit there was a problem with the software and they are working on a fix...ha we will see how much good that does."

Fast-forward to Jan. 21, when Apple owned up, sort of, to the problem. That's when Apple issued a document which explains what's going on, without calling it bug. Entitled "SMS messages may be displayed in the wrong order when sending or receiving text messages," it describes the symptom as "When sending or receiving text messages on the iPhone, the SMS messages may be displayed out of sequence."

Apple's suggested solution is as follows:

"This can occur if the iPhone is not displaying the same date and time setting as the carrier network time. Make sure iPhone is setup to receive the network time. Choose General > Date & Time and turn Set Automatically to ON. (Note that in some locations, network time may not be available and in some cases, you may not see this option). If the issue continues after turning this setting on, the issue may be occurring because messages are being sent in quick succession (more common if the messages consist of only a few short words). This document will be updated as more information becomes available."

What? Now it's not a bug -- "the issue may be occurring because messages are being sent in quick succession" -- it's a feature?

Unfortunately, the Apple document hasn't seemed to satisfy the posters on Apple's iPhone forum, who are still complaining about the problem as of Saturday night, Jan. 26. As "nikey33" sums it up: "Basically all of us having this problem are going to have to put up with it until Apple decides to fix it."

BTW, the SMS Conversations 1.1.3 thread has 11,000+ views and 193 replies, which makes it far and away the most heavily trafficked discussion on the forum. Take this as collateral confirmation that, regardless of the seriousness of the bug -- and, let's face it; it's probably minor, and not that difficult to fix -- it's definitely something that bothers a fair number of iPhone customers.



Discussion of text messaging problems caused by the 1.1.3 update has surfaced on Apple's own iPhone Forums. (Click picture to enlarge and to see more screen grabs.)

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