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?
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:
(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.
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.