Pop-up notifications have been part of third party messaging apps like GoSMS Pro and Handcent and although they might serve their purpose, they’re not exactly ground-breaking, nor are they applicable to other applications.
Enter Pops, which takes notifications to a whole new level with artsy, animated pop-ups unlike any other. It falls well in the fun side of Android, by combining basic functionality and advanced customization with the simple event of receiving and sending messages — SMS but also email, Twitter or Facebook messages.
Pops are animated graphics which you assign to a contact so they play when you get a message from that person. You can choose from a wide variety of Pops provided within the app, or you can pick a video clip or image from your phone.
The Pops home screen displays the Pops gallery, with four control buttons on the bottom. The first is for sending Pops to other users, the second is for setting Pops to contacts, the third is for viewing all messages with Pop settings, and the last one opens another window for using a photo or video from your phone. On top of the screen, you can slide through Featured, Packs or Popular Pops.
The Pops home screen
Assigning Pops to Contacts
To start assigning videos, or even still photos, to your contacts, you can either select from the included Pops gallery or from your device’s gallery.
The Pops gallery lets you browse and click on each animation to preview it. At this point, internet connectivity is needed to download the file. Once the file is fully loaded, the animation preview starts and a Set button appears below. You can then proceed to choose which of your contacts you’d like to assign it to. The most recent contacts will appear in a film strip on the bottom, and you can tap on More on the very end of the strip to view all contacts.
Assigning Pops to contacts
On the other hand, if you want to use your own photos and videos, you can tap on the video camera icon on the home screen and add from the gallery or take a new photo directly from the app.
When set, notifications for new messages will appear full screen, with a small strip on the bottom for the message preview. To reply to the message, swipe up and start typing. You can also send a Pops clip along with your reply.
Full screen pop-up
For Pops to function properly, it needs to be enabled in Accessibility. Go to your device Settings app, and tap on Accessibility. Select Pops and tap on the toggle button to turn it on.
Not Just SMS Messages
By default, Pops is set to notify you of new SMS messages. However, more services can be added. Tap on the gear icon on the top right corner of the home screen and you’ll get a list of other services available for setting Pops notifications — including Gmail, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Skype, Instagram, Google Talk and the stock calendar app. After toggling a service, you might need to follow the prompts for authorising Pops to access your content and account.
Now your notifications won’t be limited to people who send you SMS, but can be triggered by those who send you email or are in your social networks.
Adding other services to Pops notifications
Notifications can be set to Pause Mode , which mutes them for a specified period of time, or Sleep Mode, which schedules notifications for a specified start and end time. You can also enable Privacy so message contents do not show on the pop-up screen. All downloaded Pop animations can be shuffled for all contacts, so Pops appear randomly instead of a fixed one for each contact. Note that shuffling Pops won’t allow you to assign new ones to your contacts, and you’ll need to disable the feature first.
Quiet time for Pops by Pause or Sleep Mode
Pops’ best feature is obviously the quality of its stock animations. High definition graphics, clever video concepts and sound effects all make the app more than just another novelty. Pops’ funny, creative, eye-catching selection of animations have something for everyone. From black and white themes to Kawaii, it’s sure to satisfy even the most picky users. If you can’t find anything on its gallery, there are more themes available for download on the Play Store.
The second best thing about Pops is its integration with other services like email and social networks.
However, while Pops is an exciting way to receive and send messages, it’s important to note that it does have a few demands from your phone. Battery life is something to consider when using this app. Although it will depend on your messaging activity, simply getting a few messages with full screen animation does take up a notable amount of power, especially on devices with big screens. Another thing to note is that there seems to be no way to control how long the pop-ups stay on the screen if left untouched. This missing function may cause you to miss messages, as I’ve experienced a few times when using Pops.
Overall, Pops is a unique and refreshing take on messaging. While it may not always be practical, it doesn’t hurt to indulge in its fun, graphically loud approach to messaging.