"Say what now??!" A Totally Bonkers Android Glitch.
February 22, 2017 12:07 PM   Subscribe

I sent a text message to my Dad. He got a different message than I sent. What's up here?

Let's say my message was, "Company X pioneered an open data model that changed the face of public transportation in my city (think using Google Maps on your phone to find the nearest bus stop!)

My dad received, "I'm going to be working with NicolaïdesXerces on a new project! He offered me a $10/hr raise and city (think using Google Maps on your phone to find the nearest bus stop!)"

Here's the weird part. I checked my entire messaging log, which is untouched since I bought the phone six months ago. I had my dad do the same on his device. And... the substitute text is not a string either of us has typed before. Even weirder, "NicolaïdesXerces" is the name of an estranged friend & former co-worker. But we haven't talked in years, and neither I nor my father would have any reason to type his name or even google search him. It's an incredibly rare, obscure first name. There's no way it would be in the autocorrect dictionary.

Last thing – just before the glitch, I *was* talking about employment with Company X and describing the pay scheme. But I used the words "job" "gig" "bump" and "$45-55," not "project" "$10/hr" or "raise."

I compared screenshots of the entire conversation. No other errors. My test messages came through fine. Any ideas?

– No local weather interference.
– Phones are stock, locked, up to date.
– I'm on a Moto G4 using Signal, he's on HTC One S using Google Messenger.
posted by fritillary to Technology (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You're dad is using messenger? So it's over SMS? Max sms message is 160 7 bit chars; 140 8 bit chars - if it's getting broken into multi message I think the parts can only be 132 or 136 . The actual message that you sent, the missing part probably changed to the correct part about 132 or 136 characters in? I'm not sure how signal transitions to sms, but if it uses your phone to send sms, then it's likely your phone sms provider, or your dad's sms provider. If signal receives the message at it's servers and then sends the outbound sms, then it's either signals's server or your dad's sms.

sms is really amazing that it works as well as it usually does. I've seen things like this from sms before. Don't use sms.
posted by nobeagle at 12:23 PM on February 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

My guess is you turned on some kind of voice dictation feature of your messaging app as you were getting ready to send, and the dictation software -- which would be centrally located -- looked through your history and fitted a name you had previously typed to some sounds it couldn't interpret.
posted by jamjam at 12:23 PM on February 22, 2017

Huh! Yes, SMS. On my message the split starts at the 156th char slot.
posted by fritillary at 12:32 PM on February 22, 2017

Sorry, when I said "sms is really amazing that it works as well as it does" what I should have said is sms is kind of a crappy protocol that's mostly best effort by the providers. It's surprising that there's as few times where people get mis-delivered or mis-assembled messages, and that they're usually delivered in a timely fashion.

On preview: I see that 7 bit sms characters split at 152 characters. That's super odd then that you see the discrepancy at 156 characters; 4 characters longer than would be in an sms fragment. It might not be SMS despite my initial thoughts of it being the most likely source of the problem.
posted by nobeagle at 12:38 PM on February 22, 2017

What happens if you resend the exact message that had the problem? Does it come through correctly the second time?
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 6:04 PM on February 22, 2017

Yes, it came through okay the second time.
posted by fritillary at 10:13 PM on February 22, 2017

Check your keyboard's dictionary for any substitutions that may have been added.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 11:25 AM on February 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I checked the dictionary, no substitutions!
posted by fritillary at 7:23 PM on March 3, 2017

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