Changes to text messaging in REV23 Desktop

Text messaging is changing in REV23 Desktop

Nate Laff · Friday, September 23, 2022

Lately there has been an increase in support issues concerning text message rejections (bounce backs) to our user’s inboxes. We wanted to explain the reasons behind this as well as the changes we’re making to REV23 Desktop to address these issues.

First, a bit of history because that’s always fun and important! Sending text messages in REV23 Desktop has worked the same way since v1.0 in 2010. We don’t send text messages, but rather use a concept known as Email-to-SMS. By collecting the mobile provider along with the phone number, we can send an email to the carrier (i.e. Verizon, T-Mobile, etc...) using your email provider (i.e. Gmail, Outlook, etc..), which the handset interprets as a text message. You can easily do the same thing in your email client if you know the SMS gateway of the mobile provider, so REV23 is not doing any real magic here.

While somewhat inconvenient to collect the mobile provider from your clients, it was done this way for one very simple reason: It made messaging in REV23 available at no additional cost! The alternative is using a service where you pay per text message.

This was not without its downfalls, however. The biggest of which was countries outside of the US were never able to utilize texting as the US carriers are mostly all that support it due to how carriers in other countries bill their text usage.

With some history out of the way let’s talk about what’s seemingly happening now, as we have no concrete information and can only speculate. As mentioned, we are seeing many rejections (bounce back) lately, most of which indicating the sender was refused. These carriers occasionally block certain email domains (Gmail) or IP addresses in that domain if they saw an increase in spam text messages. Typically, this was temporary and not too frequent. However, this seems to be happening more and more across a wide range of carriers. While we cannot say definitively why this is happening (and that we can not do anything to fix it), we can only assume that this trend will continue and get worse.

Since 2020 we have been quietly testing integration with Twilio, a third-party solution for sending text messages programmatically. This integration already exists in versions of REV23 Desktop and has been very successful for those wishing to use it. We intended to release this feature officially with our next major version, which is currently delayed while we push to release our new mobile product, REV23 X. We also intended to keep this integration side by side the existing email to SMS functionality to allow both a free solution as well as a more reliable paid solution.

It has become clear that Email-to-SMS is no longer a viable solution and have decided we must retire it as an option entirely in the next version of REV23 Desktop. These issues have become too much of a support burden and while it has been a good (and free) ride, it’s time to stop relying on this outdated concept. We kept this feature for free for as long as we could, but it’s time to move forward.

In the coming weeks we are going to release REV23 Desktop v22.1. While not a huge update, as our efforts are currently focused on our new mobile product, REV23 X, it does have some new features. However, from this version forward a Twilio account will required for sending text messages. If you wish to continue to use Email-to-SMS, you must stay on version 18.1. We will then release our planned v23 sometime next year, with many more features and improvements.

The benefits gained are the ability to send outside of the United States, and no longer requiring a mobile provider to send text messages! This is a more reliable solution than email and should result in less support issues as well. Of course, the disadvantage is it is a separate paid service. While not particularly expensive (at the time of this writing, $0.0079/message), it can start to add up with high volume. Of course, if you’re sending thousands of text messages per month, it is likely more than paying for itself in confirmed tattoo appointments!

If you wish to continue sending text messages with REV23 Desktop after the current version (18.1) you must create a Twilio SMS account and pay for it separately. In future versions we will help facilitate this account creation. This is not a partner program or us trying to money grab. You will go directly to the Twilio website and create your own account which you, and only you manage. You will pay the bill; we do not see a dime for this. The alternative is to create a “Text Messaging” add-on plan that you pay extra for, and we manage this for you. While we may do a managed plan later for ease of use, we wanted the transparency here, so you understood that this is a separate paid service.

To configure REV23 Desktop for Twilio, you will need:

  • A Twilio SMS Phone Number
  • Account SID
  • Auth Token

If you need help getting these things, you will need to contact Twilio for assistance.

You can find information to create your account here:

Twilio Sign-up

Twilio SMS Pricing

Twilio Support - Retrieve/Change your Auth Token

REV23 - Nate Laff

Nate Laff

Nate is the founder and developer of REV23.

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