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While I do think iMessage is superior, it only works within the Apple ecosystem. This reveals Apple’s desire to dominate everything, imposing closed standards that other vendors cannot adopt. No one other than Apple can develop an iMessage client. While you are waiting for Apple’s world-wide domination of technology, please only communicate with other Apple users…
We can only hope that, much like with EPEAT, Apple eventually faces the reality of the issue. Their SMS app is not secure and people need to send SMS messages. In the meantime, I would recommend being skeptical of SMS messages. If you are chatting with your friend on SMS, it is probably fine. However, it is possible for a malicious user to pose as a “long-lost friend” and attempt to extract sensitive information from you. Of course, you should be weary of any “special offers” from financial institutions transmitted via SMS. Even before this issue, I think most people were skeptical and even annoyed by SMS spam.
I did spend some time searching for alternative SMS apps for the iPhone. There are actually better apps for sending SMS than the stock app. This is not surprising. A lot of the standard iOS apps are not very good. Unfortunately, I have yet to find one that will display message header details, like the original number. They all seem to only display the reply-to number, which can be spoofed.
The other alternative is that your carrier could verify the reply-to number. I wouldn’t hold my breath. It seems like a much more difficult solution than Apple handling it on their client. Unfortunately, Apple is reluctant to make such a simple change, as they are using this vulnerability to drive adoption of iMessage. This is all the more reason Apple should not be allowed to attain hegemony. An Apple-only world is a true dystopia.