‘Critical’ software error sends Android text messages to wrong contacts

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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Android is gaining on iPhone in the quest for dominance in the smart phone market. The rising popularity of the phone does little, however, to calm the outrage of some Android users who are livid with a longstanding software bug that renders text messaging a potentially devastating experience.

First reported to Google in June, the bug in the software of Google’s Android phones causes users to accidentally send a text message to the wrong person.

The bug strikes unsuspecting Android users who use the phone’s text messaging service. As late as January 1, fixing the bug was only rated a “medium” priority by Google. The priority has been updated to “critical,” leading to speculation that a software patch may become available.

A forum on Google Code, the company’s official developer website, reveals just how professionally and personally damaging the bug has been.

The malfunction strikes unexpectedly. An Android user types a text message to a contact. The message appears as sent to the proper contact. When a different contact responds to the text, the sender recognizes that something has gone wrong, sometimes terribly wrong.

One Android user wrote on the forum hosted by Google Code, “Today I sent a text asking about a contract from a potential employer – and it went to my current boss. “ The user wrote, “this bug has the potential to harm business deals, destroy relationships and generally wreak havoc with peoples lives.”

Another angry Android user described a similar situation, in which a husband sent a text message to his wife expressing a desire to find a new job. The message was delivered to his current employer.

Professional relationships may not be the only ones jeopardized by the problem. Several users posted stories describing how text messages intended for a significant other were sent to co-workers, friends, family, or even bitter exes.

One user complained that a message intended for a girlfriend went to an ex-girlfriend.

“Just sent a very private message to lady friend,” another user commented, “but it didn’t go to her at all, it went to a male friend. Embarrassing yes, but potentially devastating! The consequences of this txt landing in someone else’s text inbox is unimaginable.”