Google’s Android 4.4 operating system KitKat is about to make the rounds, and with it come many feature enhancements – along with the potential breaking of many useful existing third party SMS apps.
The change is thoroughly documented in this Android Developers blog entry, but the short of it is that most existing SMS apps will not work with 4.4 without some additional coding and hoops to jump through, and when they do they will have to be the default SMS app in order to receive messages or write to the outbound SMS database.
This might concern you if you use any application to back up and restore scads of text messages, as during a restore the SMS backup application now has to receive the text message in order to access the SMS database. While this is a tiny little window, you can lose a text or thirty depending on your level of textaholism or how many times you do this – an example of this is if you’re someone who flashes a lot of ROMs and restores the database a lot you’re down during a restore.
While any application can still write to the SMS database, only the default text app is allowed to, so the default has to change during writes and handle any text messages that come in.
While not a particularly world-ending problem to the average user, applications may now be fighting for control with Google’s Hangouts, which will presumably be supporting integrated SMS and MMS soon. This is probably one reason Google’s doing this. Applications that hang or crash after yanking the default may remain the default if they didn’t return the torch gracefully. We’ll see.
On the upside, as 4.4 is not really out yet and the notice has gone out, hopefully there will be ways around for legitimate applications that won’t affect usefulness. The downside is applications you may have purchased and loved that are not being supported any more probably will not be compatible. At the moment, at least, this is more of a headache for developers than for end users.