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iPhone and multi-recipient SMS

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Q: I am a youth minister who likes to keep my students and parents informed by sending text messages with my cell phone. I just purchased an iPhone and was wondering if the iPhone allows you to send multiple text messages to groups?

- Michael

A: Unfortunately, the iPhone does not presently support the sending of SMS messages to multiple recipients. SMS messaging on the iPhone is treated as an iChat-style conversation between two parties.

There are third-party applications that can be added to a hacked iPhone, but of course these are not in any way supported by Apple, and you proceed at your own risk in terms of adding such third-party applications.

You can send feature requests to Apple in regards to the iPhone at http://www.apple.com/feedback/iphone.html.

Note that although this isn’t supported directly in the iPhone’s SMS application, there are several possible workarounds depending on your cellular provider and how they handle either web-based SMS or e-mail to SMS messages. Since the iPhone has a full browser and full e-mail capabilities, using a web-to-SMS or email-to-SMS gateway may offer a viable alternative. Often SMS messages can be sent to specific phones simply by using an e-mail address such as:

[email protected]

(for an AT&T subscriber)

Most cellular carriers have this information readily available on their websites. For example, see How do I e-mail a text message to an AT&T wireless phone? for an example of how this works on AT&T.

A list of e-mail-to-SMS domains for various providers has also been started in our Discussion Forums at How to Send MMS from the iPhone.

Finally, it may be worth checking to see if your mail hosting provider offers an SMS gateway service as well. Some providers such as Fastmail (http://www.fastmail.fm) do offer a direct e-mail-to-SMS gateway within their OWN environment for their customers. Other providers may offer similar options. These methods have the benefit of being carrier-neutral, since you submit the SMS message to your own e-mail provider’s domain, and they take care of the details of delivering the message to the recipient, regardless of which carrier they’re on.

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