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Welcome to MMS, iPhone Users

Since Apple's iPhone debuted two summers ago on AT&T Wireless, its users have had to put up with a not-so-secret shame: If somebody with a lesser cellphone sent them a picture or video message, they couldn't read it on their phones without visiting a special Web site and tapping in a series of random, alphanumeric codes, as seen at the top of the screenshot below.


This summer, Apple finally added support for "Multimedia Messaging Service" on the iPhone 3G and 3GS -- but not the original model -- in its iPhone 3.0 software. AT&T, however, didn't enable iPhone MMS on its network until a few minutes ago today, or a few days after its original "late summer" prediction.

As Apple explains in a tech-support note, you have to connect your iPhone to your PC or Mac and click iTunes' "Check for Update" button to download and install a small "carrier settings update" file. Then you need to shut down and restart the phone. (AT&T just posted a condensed version of those instructions on its Facebook page and on its own site.)

After completing that upgrade on an iPhone 3GS loaned by Apple, I was able to send an MMS message to another phone (that's the second message in the screenshot) by tapping a camera icon while composing a message, and a test MMS message sent to the iPhone from a Sprint phone appeared with its photo intact. But a picture message sent from a T-Mobile phone has yet to appear. Perhaps, as some writers warned earlier this week, AT&T's network is getting jammed with MMS notes sent by iPhone users eager to test out the new feature?

Either way, I'm glad to see that in the U.S., the iPhone has finally caught up with, well, every other mobile phone on the market. Now if AT&T would just get around to supporting "tethering" like all the other iPhone carriers...

Have you enabled MMS on an iPhone 3G or 3GS? Post a note about how it's working out for you in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  September 25, 2009; 2:07 PM ET
Categories:  Gadgets  
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It took the picture and stuff after reboot but failed to send the text after trying for over two minutes.

At&t network?

Posted by: pachdry | September 25, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

"Either way, I'm glad to see that in the U.S., the iPhone has finally caught up with, well, every other mobile phone on the market."

Come on. On my iPhone I can
1) RDP to my PC
2) Navigate via a map
3) Have use of the most advanced mobile Facebook client on the market
4) Take a picture and have Amazon look up the item with a price
5) Find any free wi-fi in the area
6) Find restuarants, bars,etc
7) Send free SMS to anyone
8) Find movies and see trailers
9) Visual voice mail
10) games

Frankly, there is more stuff than I feel like listing. Now that the iPhone has "caught up" will all other phones on the market, could you please tell us when all other phones will catch up with the iPhone?

Posted by: eternalemperor | September 26, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

I got the update I have iPhone 3G. Multimedia messaging is not supposed to be limited to pictures (key word "multi") AT&T sent out a text message today:

AT&T Free Msg: Picture and video messaging (MMS) is now available for your iPhone. Your eisting messaging plan includes unlimited send and receipt of text, picture & video messages. To enable MMS, connect your iPhone to your computer and click "Check for Update" in iTunes, then restart your iPhone.

So my point and question is, was the update supposed to include a video recording app? Because the iPhone 3GS has the app but iPhone 3G does not. Did they just send the mass message only to get our hopes up and realize that we still can't send video? We can send Voice Memo MMS, and photo MMS but still no video. Any comments?

Posted by: mcamacho07 | September 26, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

I live in Calgary Alberta Canada I have 2 iPhones 3G/3GS I have had MMS from day one.Have decent 3G coverage HSPA,Rogers has just up gradded to HSPA+ the 4th carrier in the world/first in north americia .Can't weight till Apple up grades the iPhone to take advantage of this.

Posted by: larryharvey | September 26, 2009 1:57 AM | Report abuse

For mcamacho07, only the 3GS would be able to send video because it is the only phone in the lineup that has a video camera, the original and 3G models only have a still image camera and can't record video.

Posted by: rajrajmarley | September 26, 2009 1:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure if the author is comparing iPhones in the US to iPhones abroad, or US iPhones to other US phones, but here in France, I have been able to do all those things you mentioned and more, on my almost 2-year old LG, while my wife, on her iPhone 3G on the Orange network, had finaly gotten to use MMS just a couple months ago.
And She her calling plan doesn't have unlimited SMS/MMS, while mine does.
And since the iPhone doesn't have a camera facing the user, she can't do video calls, while I can.....
So yes, we're still waiting for the iPhone to catch up to 2 or 3 year old phones over here....

Posted by: franglais | September 26, 2009 4:22 AM | Report abuse

Woe is me!! Where do I buy a larger ego so I'll feel I need a 3G/3GS iPhone with MMS, PMS, SMS, camera, video recorder, HSPA, HSPA+, navigate a map, can find a wi-fi HS, locate the nearest pile of doggie doo, and have it shine my shoes while I perform brain surgery on a patient while talking to my mommy??

Posted by: joeblotnik49 | September 26, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

It worked like a charm when I sent it to a verizon user. I have yet to get feedback from a fellow AT&T user. I am absolutely loving this! When I was a Sprint user, I could only receive links to photos that I had to access with a provided user ID and password. Didn't like this. The MMS capability of the iPhone, this, to me is the multimedia experience I have been waiting for.

Posted by: SterlingStokes | September 26, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I have downloaded all the appropriate updates and the camera image shows in the text area. No photo is able to be sent. After reaching the 2/3 sending point it will not complete the function. Tried multiple times and rebooted as well as re synced the phone to no avail.

Posted by: Candlewood | September 26, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I have a simple question. Why would I want to use MMS to send a photo instead of sending an e-mail and attaching a photo?

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | September 26, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: franglais

Which LG phone allows you to RDP to a windows box?

Posted by: eternalemperor | September 26, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: franglais

Which LG phone allows you to RDP to a windows box?
Or Play Madden 2010?
Or matches the iPhone's browser?
Runs Google voice search?
Runs Shazam?
Allows me to remote control my desktop mouse or DVR?
Has a Facebook client to match that of the iPhone?

Which one?

Posted by: eternalemperor | September 26, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

MMS has been available in phones for almost 8 years...

Posted by: aafsdf | September 27, 2009 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Apple's lack of MMS support, until now, and AT&T's workaround for iPhones (i.e. the horrid link with cryptic log-in and password on unreliable servers that worked 50% of the time and were terribly slow when they did) was hands down the most asinine solution and most horrid usability nightmare ever in the history of mobile telephony. My iPhone has finally caught up with those cheap $30 phones from almost a decade ago.

Posted by: aafsdf | September 27, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

"I have a simple question. Why would I want to use MMS to send a photo instead of sending an e-mail and attaching a photo?"

Because not everyone has email on their phones but most have MMS.

Posted by: ArlingtonVA3 | September 28, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Eh, you poor guys in the USA. With Rogers here in Canada we have had MMS and Tethering ever since the new software came out. USB tethering is great, although we are looking to see how much Rogers will ding us for it come late fall, right now it is free as a part of a bigger data plan. The only challenge is that setting up Bluetooth pairing and tethering from a 3G to a Mac does not (easily) work.

Posted by: OttawaForester | September 29, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Why would we (IPhone users) want to send MMS instead of an email? Because there are still many people out there who do not have 'internet ready' or internet enabled phones, but DO have MMS capabilites. My parents included. They have no need for internet or email on their phones, but DO enjoy the benefits of picture mail. My fiance and I are able to send/receive(although slowly) between our two 3GS(same account - AT&T), but not from any other carrier or able to send to any other carrier.

Posted by: americansoldier0529 | September 29, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

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