September 20, 2014

I Was Wrong: the "Android SMS Bug" is Real

Looks like I was wrong in my previous post: the Android SMS bug appears to be real, but dependent on a very specific condition that does not exist for most users. That’s why most people cannot reproduce it.

Specifically, there is something about certain email-to-SMS messages that corrupts Android’s SQLite database, causing unpredictable results thereafter. The most commonly cited offender is alerts sent by Bank of America, though SMS alerts sent by LinkedIn and T-Mobile are also cited. It’s possible that any SMS where the sender is an email address will do the trick, or it’s possible there’s something else these specific senders’ messages have in common.

To be clear: if you’ve never received one of these corrupting messages, you will never be able to reproduce the bug. That’s why it’s only affecting a small group of Android users.

If you have fallen prey to the issue, you should be able to fix it by performing a hard reset (wiping all data) and then blocking the offending sender(s) from sending you texts in the future.

This information all comes from another bug report on the Android section of Google Code, Issue 1233. I encourage you to contribute to the thread only if you have useful information to add. Letting the useful info get buried in a mountain of “fix it now!!!” does not help anything.

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