iPhone, AT&T, and MMS

Like nearly all of the iPhone community, I too was excited when Apple announced the iPhone would now support Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). When with Verizon, I grew accustomed to sending and receiving pictures to my mobile device. When I moved to AT&T after I bought the iPhone 3G, I was shocked to find out that AT&T did not support MMS on their network.

I was equally shocked when Apple and AT&T announced that MMS would not be immediately available through the AT&T network but that the feature would be delivered “late summer 2009). There have been rumors swirling around the Internet stating the reason for the delay was not a technical issue with the AT&T’s 3G network but rather it was a problem with the AT&T customer database that prevented the iPhone to be properly identified as a potential MMS client.

I try not to get too hung up on the conspiracy theories that are rampant whenever a new feature or device has issues. Still, it was frustrating to think that while the rest of the iPhone world would be able to use MMS, the iPhone customers in the United States would have to wait an undetermined amount of time before this feature would be active.

I waited as patiently has I could for notification of when MMS would be delivered. Each time I asked the answer would be the same, “late summer”. According to my calendar Autumn officially begins on September 22, 2009 so by definition we should receive this functionality by that date at the latest.

On Wednesday I received a text message from AT&T stating that a new version of the carrier settings would be available to download through iTunes on September 25. Among the features would be MMS. While AT&T technically missed their stated deadline by three days it was at least encouraging to hear that MMS would finally be active.

When September 25 arrived; I plugged my iPhone into my Macbook Pro and opened iTunes. Sure enough, iTunes notified me of an update being available. I immediately installed the software, anxious to try out MMS.

To utilize MMS, a user simply goes into the Messages application on the iPhone and either start a new messaging conversation or select a current conversation. At the bottom of the display near the left corner of the input field is a new camera icon. Selecting this icon brings up an input dialog where the user can either take a photo using the iPhone’s built in camera or you can choose an existing photo that is stored in the iPhone.

When the message is sent, the photo shows up as a conversation bubble in the message stream. The recipient will receive the photo just as they would a text message. By clicking on the photo within messaging you can view the entire photo. The recipient has the ability to save the photo to their iPhone photo roll.

Overall the MMS feature works quite well. I was able to sent pictures from my son’s soccer game to my wife who could not attend the event. My daughter was able to send photos of athletic shoes she was thinking of buying giving us the opportunity to veto her taste in shoes. My wife was even able to send me a picture of the laundry detergent she needed me to pick up. This was substantially easier than having her try to describe the packaging to me.

I thought that MMS would end up being a novelty but I find myself using it more and more in daily communications. Now if AT&T would just figure out how they are going to provide tethering capabilities for the iPhone I would be a happy user.


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