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The iPhone’s lack of any MMS capabilities was said to be on account of the versatile and full featured email support. If it’s so simple to send photos via email, why pay extra to send them via MMS?
While that is a valid argument to a certain extent, the two services remain predominantly different; e-mail is unlikely to be picked up by a regular phone user ‘on the go’ and isn’t tailored in the same manner for quickly sending and receiving photo snapshots.
Enter iPhoneMMS. This service is currently a web application for the iPhone allowing you to access and send O2 media messages through a more appealing interface. For the last few days I have been using a preview of the latest edition, a native iPhone application which has recently launched.
The app allows you to send and receive MMS messages in a far more user-friendly way than through the O2 website. It brings MMS functionality closer to a real, integrated solution.
For sending messages, international support is planned and under development. Unfortunately, the ability to receive messages relies on support from the network operator in question and no other international network offers the same functionality as O2 at this stage. Depending upon the success of the app in the UK, the developers may seek the assistance of AT&T to extend support to the U.S.
Once installed, you’ll see the red iPhoneMMS icon in your iPhone menu. I was pleasantly surprised to see the similar design to existing Phone and Text icons — albeit in a brighter red color. It makes the app feel like an official edition to support MMS sending and receiving.
To set your phone up to access your messages through the app, you need to receive a MMS and note the PIN code provided to you by O2. You then enter your mobile number and that PIN into the application to access your account.
When you receive an MMS, a notification is usually provided in the form of a text message from your network operator. You can open the iPhoneMMS application, login, and browse all previously received messages.
Sending a new message is very similar to composing an email. You enter a telephone number, subject line and can take a new photo or attach an existing one.
Costs & Pricing
The iPhoneMMS app is free through the App Store and there are no recurring costs — you pay only for the messages you use. At present, each message costs one credit. You receive one credit for free when registering, after which they can be purchased via PayPal in blocks of 10 or more. They are priced at around £0.35 each.
Plans are in place to lower this price in the future through discussion with the MMS team at O2. An agreement with the network operator could lead to:
- Instant notification of MMS (no need to use your mobile number / pin to login)
- Sending messages will be charged by O2 through your standard bill
- Messages will be charged at the normal O2 rates
I feel that this would go a long way towards making the app more useful, encouraging casual users to dabble in sending media messages rather than those who are happy to pre-pay with a credit system.
iPhoneMMS is currently freely available through the UK iTunes App Store. I’m interested to see that the app has been readily accepted — I imagine its submission to the App Store sparked a debate at Apple surrounding plans to support or endorse this feature in the native iPhone software itself.
Who’s Behind the App?
This service is entirely owned and operated by two private individuals:
- Ross McKillop: A web developer and consultant who became frustrated at the lack of MMS on the iPhone (and others asking about it!) so decided to do something about it.
- Ed Lea: A talented iPhone developer behind many other excellent apps on the AppStore including TV Plus, which held the #1 spot in the Top 50 Apps for a number of weeks.
This app seems to be a great start for supporting MMS on the iPhone. I’m aware that UK-only support is limiting for many readers of TheAppleBlog, but the system provides a concept which could be expanded to the U.S. — either by the existing developers, or a different team based in America.
There’s still some way for the app to go before being fully integrated into your O2 bill and providing seamless MMS support. Initial impressions are good, however and it will certainly be worth investigating if you’re based in, or frequently travel to, the UK.
What are your thoughts on MMS support? Is it a service which you miss the support for on the iPhone, or have you adjusted to life without it just fine? I’d be interested to hear how many of you would welcome an app such as this.