You may have used my “My Groups” application to send messages to a group of contacts.

If your groups contain many contacts, you’ve probably noticed that the message editor is suffering from a growth crisis. It doesn’t know how to fit into the screen frame and overflows very easily, to the point of becoming unusable.

Using Message in apps

The iPhone offers no way for a developer to directly send messages or SMS. Everything has to go through an Apple-supplied user interface.

For the user, the main advantages are obvious:

  • The interface is always the same, as it is simply the editor of the Messages application.
  • No application can send SMS without the user’s knowledge, which limits the risk of spam and scams involving premium-rate numbers.

Developers will also find something to their liking:

  • The interface is ready to use.
  • It’s easy to use and takes care of all the low-level communication work.

From a security point of view, Apple isolate applications in their sandbox.

The integration of a piece of the Messages application is no exception to the rule.

While the editor is visually well integrated into the application, its code is executed by an independent process controlled by iOS.

A normal message editor

This makes it impossible to adjust its interface or modify its behavior. Security for the user and the system is guaranteed, but if it contains bugs you’ll have to deal with them.

Growth burst

Overall, the message editor works very well, until you starts to want to send a message to a lot of contacts.

Instead of staying in its space and gently adjust its user interface to the available screen estate, the editor will grow its list of recipients until it fills all the available space.

No more message editor. No more send button.

An overgrown message editor

The MFMessageComposeViewController is now just a gigantic list of contacts, fully unusable, and the only option left to the user is the cancel button.

So far, I haven’t found a workaround for this problem. You can easily reproduce it using this little illustration project that I gave to Apple when I opened a ticket for them.

My only option seems to be to ask users to use the Shortcuts application.

Far from being a smooth and satisfying solution, this at least allows the functionality to be used. The price to pay is far greater complexity and confusing use for most users.

Apple has an open ticket, and I hope they’ll eventually resolve this bug.