Open Thread on Broken Mobile Messaging

Here’s my story. I’m hoping you’ll share yours as well…

On the morning that my mom died I was waiting for a text from my older brother, the main point of contact for the hospital where we had brought her the day before. I did get a phone call shortly before 7am but again, the text never cameā€”and I had been awake and waiting for it since about 4.

As an Android user my first instinct was to blame iMessage, but the more I think about it the more I believe it was some combination of iMessage and MMS. I actually have two older brothers and both of them use iPhones, much to my dismay (not really). What happened was that the brother who was contacted by the hospital sent a group text to my other brother and I. The oldest brother received the message on his iPhone without issue; the youngest brother on his Android phone (me) did not.

SMS has been a fairly critical means of communication for me over the past two years; I’ve relied on it to organize my mom’s around-the-clock care. In my experience the only way that bulk texting works reliably is if I set my app to send group texts as individual messages. This isn’t ideal because it makes it harder to read through replies, but at least it works. My current Android SMS app does this by default; surely there’s a similar option for iMessage…?

Again, in my case it wasn’t the absolute end of the world. But if you have to call someone and ask them if they got your text then messaging has failed for both of you. I personally have been using SMS for at least 17 years, and the technology has been around longer than that. This stuff should have been figured out by now, but clearly hasn’t.

Please feel free to name and shame your carrier, app and/or mobile messaging technology below.


  1. Hi Andrew, I read with interest your post on purchasing sims in Norway. I will definitely go your way. Thank you. Do you think that purchasing a data plan is enough? We are coming with our granddaughter to Norway for 10 days and will mostly be in touch with family at home.

    1. I don’t know of any prepaid SIMs that include long distance, so I think data is your only option. Hope that helps!

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