updated 06:15 pm EDT, Tue September 8, 2009
Apple omits character counter for iPhone SMS
A number of iPhone users, including MacNN reader NyxoLyno "Nick" Cangemi, have voiced frustration with the lack of a character counter when typing SMS messages. The handset's messaging interface does not provide any notification when 160 characters have been exceeded in the communication bubble.
"I would like a 12-inch, buffalo chicken sub on Italian bread, with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, black olives, and green peppers. If you could pick up some chocolate chip cookies too, that'd be cool," Cangemi wrote in a message.
A manual count of the sub order reveals 215 characters, which is automatically split into two separate messages. Without any visual indication of the number of characters, a feature common even to most low-end handsets, many users will find a discrepancy between the number of messages sent and the total shown on the carrier bill.
"With the wireless industry coming under increasing fire for text messaging rates, it's surprising something as simple as a character counter is missing from Apple's flagship iProduct," Cangemi says. "Free services such as Twitter offer character counters and are proving to be a viable and economic alternative to money-hungry wireless carriers. At least with Twitter, iPhone users can send photos and videos, despite AT&T's delayed deployment of MMS."
Users requiring a specific tally of billed messages can download AT&T's myWireless Mobile app. Although accessing usage information from a separate app may be considered inconvenient by some, it could help to avoid overage charges.
Both Apple and AT&T have been criticized for the lack of full MMS support on the iPhone. The restricted functionality has been blamed on the carrier's efforts to prevent network strain, as iPhone users account for a disproportionately high volume of data traffic. AT&T expects to enable the service later this month.
[Images courtesy of NyxoLyno "Nick" Cangemi]