by Nic Elder
September 19, 2008
SwirlyMMS 1.2 | Published by SwirlySpace.com | Via Cydia | $8.00 USD | Released: 9-16-08 Flutter 1.0 | Published by Juice Wireless, Inc. | Via App Store | Free | Released: 9-12-08
OverviewOur goal for this week was to find a true MMS solution for the iPhone. I know what you're thinking: "But Nic, the iPhone can't do MMS!" To be honest, I was thinking the same thing, but then I read about Flutter which was recently released in the App Store. After reading most of the comments my attention was also drawn to a jailbreak app called SwirlyMMS. What was I to do? Try them both of course, and let you guys know how they fair.
FunctionalityBoth Flutter and SwirlyMMS promise to bring MMS to the iPhone. Upon closely reading the descriptions of the two applications, however, we found they work in two entirely different manners. SwirlyMMS requires you to input your phone carrier's settings, upon which it directly sends messages through your carrier. This means per message charges unless you have an unlimited messaging plan. Flutter on the other hand sends messages through a web server that relays the message to an SMS server to send on to the recipient. What does all that mean? Let's compare the two to find out.
ComparisonWe can start off with giving credit where credit is due. In the category of accessibility Flutter is the clear winner. Flutter is available in Apple's official App Store as a native application, and on top of that, has a price tag of free. SwirlyMMS on the other hand, due to the type of functionality it provides, will not likely ever be seen in the App Store and is therefore only available to those with jailbroken iPhones. SwirlyMMS (also due to the functionality it provides) is not free; they charge a very conservative $8.00 USD.
SwirlyMMSFlutterHere is where the two differ greatly. Flutter works by taking our message, uploading our pic to their web server, and sending me a regular SMS with a web link to go look at the message. Now I must have both a data plan and the ability to click on links within an SMS to view the message. This also leaves our pic up on the web to potentially prying eyes. SwirlyMMS, in contrast, has sent the message as a real MMS through our carrier. I received the message in my picture messaging box, and was able to see the picture and message without clicking on any external links.
SwirlyMMS: +2And this is where the review ends for Flutter. Flutter has no capability to receive MMS messages at all. In fact, the message sent from Flutter doesn't even come from my phone number, so technically those who I send messages to have no simple way to reply. From here on out it's all SwirlyMMS. SwirlyMMS is what we can call a 'True MMS Solution'. I received the SwirlyMMS message I sent in realtime with an accompanying alert and properly updated SpringBoard badge that signifies my message count. The messages can be replied to, forwarded, and deleted from the inbox. Once I started using the application I instantly felt like my iPhone was (finally) complete. Here are some screenshots of the rest of SwirlyMMS in action.
SummaryFlutter has definitely carved out a niche for itself being the only MMS option for stock iPhone users. It also has that eye-catching price of 'Free', but it falls alarmingly short on functionality. Even if my phone wasn't jailbroken, I doubt I'd be using Flutter. I hate the idea of my pictures being uploaded to a server where they could potentially be harvested for some other use. I doubly hate the idea that my friends would have to have a data plan, and also follow an external link to view my message. And my last gripe? Not being able to reply to the messages. What good is messaging without the ability to reply to the person that sent you one? SwirlyMMS has won its way onto my SpringBoard and will happily live there as long as the ability to jailbreak my iPhone exists. It's a bit of work to get set up, including having to call AT&T and, in some cases, having additional options added to your account (explained below). However, after the initial setup work is done, it fills a key void that the iPhone has been missing since day one, and I feel that the minimal $8.00 USD fee to the developer for continued full use is well worth the cost. **Please read below the ratings for important information on getting SwirlyMMS to work for you.
Flutter:Bonus Feature Rating: +2
- Usability: 3 / 5
- Value: 1 / 5
- Utility: 1 / 5
- Aesthetics: 2 / 5
Overall Rating: 1.75 / 5
SwirlyMMS:Bonus Feature Rating: +8
- Usability: 5 / 5
- Value: 5 / 5
- Utility: 5 / 5
- Aesthetics: 3 / 5