Recently the news wire seemed to open a floodgate of less-than-good news about various forms of messaging. With Android came Stagefright and with iOS came a lawsuit from Google and AT&T claiming the Apple mobile platform contained a "bug" that prevented iOS users from seamlessly migrating from iOS to Android, without missing out on text messages from iOS users. This lawsuit comes on top of a previous suit, filed by former Apple customers. Apple has been fighting off these claims, for some time now, mostly in secret.
Once upon a time, texting was pretty much a universal tool. But, as everything in technology is wont to do, it evolved into something far more usable... SMS and MMS. With this evolution (and the ability to text video, audio, and more) came proprietary systems... ones that didn't play well across platforms. This meant migrating from one platform to another could cause you problems with texting. So bad was this problem, that Apple wound up having to create a tool, Dregister iMessage, that would help users jumping ship to ensure no messages wound up trapped in the ether. For some, the tool worked like a charm. For other, the Dregister tool failed.
Between the Apple iMessage fiasco and the Android Stagefright flaw, something has to change. The truth of the matter is that messaging is one of the most widely used services in the world of mobility. It's huge and cannot suffer the slings and arrows of proprietary systems and deal breaking flaws.
To that end, all mobile platform makers need to come together and create a universal messaging system. I know it sounds crazy... like cats and dogs living together, kind of crazy... but this is something that we need and we need it now.
Apple and Google need to both swallow their pride and accept the only logical solution (one that has the best interests of consumers in mind) is a system that can not only be seamlessly used between platforms, but can can be fixed... when it breaks... quickly. The Stagefright bug was found quite some time ago and the patch has yet to roll out. Former Apple users still struggle with getting their texts, once they've migrated to Android. These issues are simply unacceptable. Period. And until Apple and Google open up to the idea of universality, these and other issues will continue on.
I have a solution... one that could solve this problem (though would ruffle a lot of "bottom liners"). That solution? Open source messaging.
I know, I know... "Boos" and "hisses" heard 'round the world. But seriously, the fastest route to complete success on this issue is for every party involved to work together. What better way to work together than to open source the systems that disseminate SMS and MMS?
Not only would messaging work far better on cross platform environments, the act of patching flaws and adding features would be more efficient and reliable. This would also have the added benefit of allowing the small guys (like the Ubuntu Phone, FirefoxOS, and Blackberry) to enjoy all the benefits and services offered by the major players.
Consider this. Stagefright has gone unpatched since April 2015 (as of this writing, that's four months). What happens if that same (possibly) disastrous bug is discovered in an open source environment? Worst case... it's patched in a couple of weeks.
Yes, I understand that even once Google releases the patch for Stagefright, there are still carriers that can get in the way of its distribution. But until a patch is released, nothing can happen. Period. Had this been an open source environment, the patch would have been made available to carriers months ago (so that they can then stand in the way of its release).
I don't make any presumption that open sourcing the systems of messaging would solve all of the problems we face. But when you consider how crucial messaging has become to mobility, it is made crystal clear that something has to give. With Apple using systems that doesn't communicate well with other platforms and Google taking far too much time to patch a critical flaw... it is only one group of people that suffer:
Apple. Google. It's time for both of you to send "I <3 U" messages to one another and start working together so that we can all communicate with one another without Stagefright or iMessage.
What do you think? Would open sourcing the SMS/MMS systems solve that which ails mobility? Or is there another solution waiting in the wings?
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.