Friday, September 25, 2009

Today, after two years of waiting, American iPhone users are finally able to send and receive MMS messages. This long awaited feature has caused Apple and AT&T a great deal of grief from its user base. Originally the grief was directed at Apple for the lack of inclusion on the device, but as time progressed AT&T was faulted for lack of support.

When the iPhone was released in June of 2007, it lacked one feature that was widely available on other devices: MMS or Multimedia Messaging Service. This standard, similar to the all text SMS standard, allows users to send and receive video, audio, and picture files on their mobile phones. MMS was launched in 2002 and by 2007 was a common feature on most new mobile phones. It was not until June 2009, with the release of iPhone OS 3.0, that the devices also had the capability to send and receive these multimedia messages. Unfortunately for American iPhone users, all of whom use AT&T because of an exclusive agreement between the phone company and Apple, AT&T did not allow iPhone users to use this feature; that changed today.

Current iPhone users simply need to update (from iTunes) and reboot their device in order to enable MMS. AT&T was originally concerned about not having the network capacity to handle the data demand of all the MMS messages and in Wikinews’ own testing this seems to be a valid issue. The ability to send and receive MMS messages was functional, but by midday Friday (PST), AT&T’s network was extremely slow, with messages taking in excess of two minutes to send. Tests over AT&T’s 3G network showed upload and download speeds nearly halved what they were just a few days prior.