Google to fix phone bug that misdirects text messages

Google Android Phone A small number of phones using Google's Android system have been affected.

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Google says it will fix a mobile phone bug that mistakenly sends text messages to the wrong people.

The glitch, which has hit a small portion of the company's Android mobile phones, first emerged last year.

Those affected say some of their texts have ended up in the hands of random recipients.

After investigating the issue, Google said it had "developed a fix" and would be rolling it out soon.

It is nearly a year since the problem was first reported, although the number of incidents appeared to increase last summer.

Initial examinations confused the problem with another, similar bug - but the company admitted yesterday that some users have seen their messages delivered to the incorrect recipient.

"It took us some time to reproduce this issue, as it appears that it's only occurring very rarely," said Nik Kralevich, an engineer on the Android security team.

"Even so, we've now managed to both reproduce it and develop a fix that we will deploy."

It is not clear, however, when users will actually receive the fix - or how it would happen.

Some mobile bugs require a complete software update - which would require plugging affected handsets into a computer - while others can be fixed remotely.

Potentially embarrassing

Although the company was keen to stress that only a tiny fraction of users have reported problems, some users say it has proven embarrassing and potentially costly.

"Today I sent a text asking about a contract from a potential employer - and it went to my current boss," wrote one user on Google's bug forum.

"If this hurts my career, I will be looking into legal action."

Tracking down the bug has become increasingly important for Google since Android - its system to power smartphones - has grown massively in popularity over the past year.

It has rocketed from having a share of just 3% of the worldwide smart phone market in 2009 to more than 25% today.

Most users affected suggested it is an inconvenient, rather than crippling, problem - but those who have experienced the glitch say that it has been troubling.

"I don't know where the SMS messages are going," Christina Bunce, a university programme leader from Falmouth, told the BBC.

"But I can see they have been sent and never arrived."

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