One of the beauties of Android is the option of choice, and not having to stick with a certain app or ability that comes with the phone. Whether you use your phone’s stock messaging app or Google’s preferred Hangouts app, there are many more options in the Google Play Store. Let’s check out our favorites.
Evolve stands out as one of the best apps to utilize Google’s Material Design principles the best. The slide-out bar to the left is very convenient for those who want to access other contacts quickly, and switching between different contact messages is as easy as swiping left or right on your messages thread. Colors of your navigation and notification bar will change depending on what theme color you want throughout the app, or you can turn that off in the settings for either a transparent white look or the default black bars. The app also lets you choose a custom background for message threads from your gallery if you want. Evolve also includes an amazing feature of pop-up messaging to allow you to read and reply to messages on top of another app. With the speed it offers, as well as the customization and features you won’t find in most messaging apps, Evolve is a must try.
Textra focuses on speed and simplicity, and does that by offering a very fast way to get in and out of text messages without the hassle of navigation. Textra also offers the pop-up notification, similar to Evolve SMS, that you simply tap for a small window to open up on top of your current app, and you can swipe the window out of the way if you want to get rid of it. Textra gives you a theme color chooser and a number of other customization options including text size, dark mode, Emoji styles and more. This SMS app is perfect for people who want a fast, eye-appealing alternative to their stock messaging app.
Chomp comes from the same developer as Textra, and for the most part it’s a very similar app. It lacks a couple Material Design implementations that Textra offers, but one feature I’m fond of which some people may really like, is the more advanced Quick Reply Popup which you can customize heavily, including the ability to awake your phone, quick add a contact’s number or quick reply right from the popup. Chomp also gives you the option of creating a Quick Compose Shortcut, allowing you to create a shortcut either by holding your search button (if you have one) or placing the option in your notification drawer to create a new message fast. Custom background are included in the app as well and the theme color of the user’s choice.
Hello is an SMS app that stands out to me more than others because of its trademark tabs page you’ll find on the left side of the interface. It makes switching between threads incredibly easy instead of having to swipe around or having to press the back button a few times. Hello is also heavily geared towards people who are big into sending a lot of picture messages, as it gives you a very quick and easy way of capturing pictures right from your messaging thread if you have hellocam on, but leaving this feature on can be quite a battery drain since the messaging app will always be using your camera. Hello is also more than just an SMS app, as it wants your friends to use the app too. If they do, you can message them with data rather than SMS. Dark Mode is also present in Hello, a feature that absolutely needs to be seen in all SMS apps.
One of the first apps to give us the ability of floating chat heads is HoverChat, formally known as Ninja SMS. When a new message arrives, it will come in the form of a Hover Head on your screen where ever you are, and by tapping it you can open a small window for viewing and replying. HoverChat lets you customize many aspects of the app, including the shape and size of the Hover Heads, and you can get new ones at their own HoverChat Store. Full Android 5.0 optimization has not come to HoverChat yet, so there aren’t any Material Design qualities present, but rest assured, this is one of the most advanced SMS apps out there.
Facebook’s Messenger app just got a whole lot more popular ever since the social media giant made it mandatory to install the app to message friends on the go, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Messenger is a very polished app full of nice animations, sounds and style to make you want to keep using it. It’s full of great features and abilities that make group and picture messaging fun and easy. The app supports MMS and SMS if you’re contacts aren’t on Facebook. Messenger can take some getting use to, however. There’s the annoyance of logging into Facebook just to text people and contact synchronization can be a very unwelcomed pain. Facebook’s chat heads are extremely nice, but there seems to be one small thing that needs to be fixed when dragging chat heads out of the way, and that’s the awkward gradient that ends right on top of everyone’s transparent navigation buttons. Regardless, Messenger is a fantastic app.
The development team behind the series of “Go” apps also has a very popular SMS app. GoSMS has tons of customizable features, and a huge store that holds the most amount of themes than all the other SMS apps. GoSMS has the Popup ability as well for messaging on top of other apps. Messaging stickers, themes, fonts and more can be downloaded at the store, so you know this app can be suited just the way you want it.
I did not include Google’s Messenger or Hangouts on here because they are the default app for many Android phones, but let us know in the comments if you agree or disagree with these apps and which ones you prefer!