Chris J Powell

Free App Friday – Texting with Android

When my phone updated to Kit Kat last year I made the move over to Google Hangouts to handle my Text Messaging and SMS needs…as it turns out…I was not a real big fan, but then I returned to the default app and missed some of the functionality that Hangouts provided.  With that a mini quest started to find an SMS app that I could live with!


I looked to the 2013 article from Lifehacker that looked at 5 Alternative Text Messaging Apps.  They included WhatsApp (now part of Facebook), Viber, Textra, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts.  I quickly ruled out Hangouts and Facebook Messenger (used them both and not a big fan)…so I added TextNow to the mix and downloaded the four apps onto my phone.

Viber lasted all of 30 seconds as I did not much care for the International requirements and the activation methods so it came in, launched and left as quickly as it arrived.

TextNow was at the outset interesting but it wanted to generate a new telephone number that actually gave me an Alberta Telephone number and that didn’t really work for me either for a couple of reasons…1) I don’t want to learn another telephone number and 2) I am in Ontario not Alberta.  That being said the interface looked interesting but I just couldn’t get past the fact that I had to port over my contacts and let each one of them know that I had a new “texting” number.

Textra connects directly to the Android SMS stack and took absolutely no time to figure out how to work…back to this in a moment.

WhatsApp – I had heard lots of good things about this after the Facebook Buyout but had never tried it.  Unlike Textra, it does not act as a replacement but does go through my Contacts and automatically connects me to others who have the App installed but it does mean that I can only text to those who have the App.

The whole point of this was to find an app that would give me more functionality than the default SMS App with Android but be similar enough that I would not have to work too much to get it all to communicate and be usable.

That would mean that only Textra would fit the bill from this list.

I like that there is tons of customization that can happen under the hood for this app (changing everything from the background to the bubble colour).  I will continue to use if for the next little while but so far…I am liking how it works for me.

What do you use for Text Messages???




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