Update: The SMS Preview privacy issue is now resolved as of the iPhone 3.0 software update.
In my iPhone review last June, I pointed out a big privacy concern I had about iPhone’s SMS application: namely, the inability to turn off SMS Preview, which interrupts whatever you’re doing when you receive a text message and displays an excerpt of the message content on your screen.
As you can imagine, this can create an awkward situation when you receive a private text message and someone else is using your iPhone.
Imagine receiving a text message like the one shown above while you’re showing off your iPhone to your boss or to a coworker. (The message above was staged, I swear!)
Or perhaps you’re:
- watching a movie or YouTube video with someone, or
- letting a friend check their e-mail, or
- sharing photos with family, or
- having your copilot navigate using Google Maps
and then… *INCOMING*
…you receive a crude text from a buddy, a sexy message from your significant other, or some other private text message.
Ouch. iPhone’s SMS Preview could get you into some pretty humiliating situations.
So I’m wondering…
Has SMS Preview gotten you into trouble?
I was surprised to see how many people shared my concern about this privacy issue when I posted a sort of solution to turning off SMS Preview (which requires you to set a tedious passcode lock on your iPhone and does not always work, according to some readers).
Now I’m asking you to share any embarrassing moments or close calls you’ve had due to privacy issues with iPhone’s SMS preview.
Let’s get a discussion going in the comments so we can show Apple that SMS Preview is a real privacy concern that MUST be addressed in the next iPhone firmware update.
I’ll go first:
Recently I was at a meeting and someone in my group had to reference a PDF file but had forgotten her laptop. Since iPhone supports PDF files, I offered up my phone.
As she was scrolling through the page with the iPhone set on the table, in comes a private text message from my ex-girlfriend. Upon hearing the ring, I said “excuse me” and quickly grabbed my phone.
I avoided a potentially embarrassing situation, but why should I have to worry about incidents like these? iPhone should display text message excerpts ONLY with my permission.
So what’s YOUR story? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Update: A commenter pointed out that a third-party app called Caterpillar solves iPhone’s SMS privacy issue. Click to read my review of the Caterpillar app’s Privacy feature.