Tag Archives: Text messaging

Uh-Oh. Some Samsung phones randomly sending Gallery pics to random people. Randomly.

Yep

If you have a Samsung phone, and especially if you are on the T-mobile network, you may want to get ready: there are reports that these phones are randomly sending random pictures from the phone’s image gallery to random people in the phone’s contact list. There are obviously many scary parts to this: Not only is every aspect of it random, including when it happens, what gets sent, and to whom, but there is also no record of the images being sent. So you won’t know it happened until you get a seemingly out-of-nowhere text message from that person you went on one date with telling you to stop sending pictures of your dog dressed up like a minion.

It’s happening only with Samsung’s default messaging app, and the apparent reason it’s happening is carriers are upgrading their services to include what’s known as Rich Communication Services, a framework that is intended to replace SMS, otherwise known as simple messaging service, or the bog-standard text apps we use today. There are many reasons to implement a new platform, the two most prominent being SMS has limited functionality and it has a file size restriction os 2MB for attachments. Considering we send over a trillion text messages a year, it’s understandable demand would be there for something with more capabilities, if not necessarily better, than what it is we are using right now. Not to mention, the original incarnation of SMS was developed all the way back in the ’80s!

But wait – if it has all these additional capabilities, then it would necessarily be better, right? Well, that’s where I’m not so sure. Some of the features the RCS includes are the ability to share your location with contacts and indicate whether or not a message has been read. We already have issues with people expecting immediate responses to text messages, and I feel that capability of seeing when a message is read or even if a person is typing a response is going to lead to a whole new level of negative interpersonal dynamics, especially if they can see where you are! On the other hand, if it can incorporate all the features of other messaging apps in a single application, including things like group chat and video calls, then there are advantages to that as well, I suppose.

Additionally, not all incarnations of RCS are compatible, meaning the one that works on a Verizon phone won’t work on a T-mobile phone, and T-mobile is one of the big supporters of this new protocol, although all carriers are on board to varying levels of commitment. I suspect we’ll see that changing very soon as I believe RCS will become the new standard.

I know my phone has it, because I now have a permanent message on my phone’s lock screen and notification tray to set up WiFi calling, which is another feature of RCS. I haven’t done that because I don’t need WiFi calling, it serves absolutely no purpose (for me anyway, because I have unlimited calling), but that screamed out “You have RCS now!” Speaking of which, I’ve been thinking for a couple of months about joining the dark side and switching to iPhone, which doesn’t have RCS at all but has a much more feature-rich messaging app to begin with, one that already incorporates many of the features RCS is attempting to implement.

If you are concerned, the easy solution is use a different texting app rather than the Samsung default. I’ve done that for a long time, specifically Textra – it has a lot of additional functions that I rarely use but are nice to have when I do. There are many apps to choose from, though, and I’m sure you can find one to suit your needs. You should also turn off all permissions to the default app, regardless of whether you use it or not. I don’t have anything to hide in my phone’s image gallery (really, I don’t), but the idea of random images being sent is just too weird. I turned off permission for not only Samsung’s default messaging app, but Verizon’s as well.

If you’re REALLY concerned, Samsung has a secure folder feature. Time to move those…pics. YOU know the ones I mean.

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