We’ve all been there: we’re driving, in a meeting, or at a movie, and we get a text or a call. So we get on our phone, much to the dislike of those around us, to let the person on the other end know that we’re busy and we can’t talk right now (though to be honest, I think the point of a text message is to allow the recipient to respond when they can). This distracts the people around us: other drivers, movie goers, or meeting participants – and, quite frankly, it’s rude.
Luckily there are a ton of apps out there to help us with this problem. Today we’ll look at Away Text.
Away Text is an app that will create an automatic away message for your phone. The idea is that when enabled, it will automatically text those who call or text you with an auto-response. From their [fantastic] description:
Stop veering into other people’s lanes trying to respond to a missed text. Seriously, what if there’s an attractive person in the car you’re about to hit? You’ve just blown any chance you had.
Bottom line, downloading this app will make you a better person.
Let’s take a look and see if it really will!
Using Away Text
Away Text has a super clean interface that’s incredibly easy to use.
Away Text's Home Screen
As you can see, there is a single textbox where you can put your status in, and an on-off switch in the top right corner to enable or disable Away Text.
Away Text will also remember your last 100 statuses, which it brings up in a list as you type for easy access to common responses.
Aside from the main screen, Away Text gives you 2 other screens: missed calls, and settings.
Missed Calls and Settings
The Missed Calls screen is pretty straightforward; it displays a list of texts and calls that were sent the auto-response. One thing to note about this is that if you opt to only have the response sent to people in your Contacts, people who are not in your Contacts will not show up on that list. It also looks like each entry will not show up more than once, so if you’re looking for a comprehensive missed calls list, you’ll still need to go to the phone app for that.
In Settings, you’re given a set of options on who to send the auto-response to. You can choose from missed calls, text messages, and limit it (as mentioned above) to people that are only in your contacts. Away Text also integrates Twitter and Facebook. If you authorize Away Text for Twitter and Facebook, whenever you enable Away Text, it will automatically post your auto-response to those sites.
How It Works
Now that you’re familiar with the app, let’s talk about how well it works. I did a couple of tests to check the functionality of auto-responses for phone and SMS – both separately and together – and for posting to social networks.
First, posting to the social networks worked perfectly. You authorize Away Text just like you do with any other app, add your auto-response, turn it on, and you’re done. Your auto-response is added to Facebook and/or Twitter. The same thing goes for responding to text messages.
I really like how Away Text completely silences your phone, turning off both sound and vibrate. I thought that was a really nice touch as, after all, you are supposed to be unavailable. There are no settings to change this, but I don’t think that’s a problem at all.
With the tests I did, I sent texts from my Google Voice number to my cell and it worked great. The response was sent automatically, albeit with a little ad that says, “Sent by Away Text.” I also tested this cell-to-cell and it worked fine.
The ad goes away if you upgrade to Away Text Pro for 99 cents (USD)
It is worth noting that with both text and phone, Away Text will only send one auto-response per contact while it’s enabled. So if your contact texts back, he or she will not get the same message (again, nice touch by the developers).
While social media and texts worked fine, I did have trouble with auto-response to phone calls. At first I tried my Google Voice number to my cell; when that didn’t work, I assumed it was because it was VoIP to cell and there was some bug. Then I tried using a couple of other cell phones to call my cell phone, but none of them got a text message with my auto-response, even after disabling and re-enabling, changing the messages, and playing with the settings. I also tried different call lengths (two rings, three rings, go to voicemail, etc.), but nothing seemed to work. After reading comments on the Market page, it looks like this is an isolated case as no one else is reporting that issue.
I’m wondering if this is due to my rooting the phone or using Google Voice for voicemail. In either case, it seems Away Text uses its own method to determine what’s a missed call and what’s not.
So what do I think of Away Text overall? I think it’s great. It’s super clean, easy to use, and pretty well thought out. Since I haven’t seen any complaints about that missed calls issue so I can assume that I’m the only one having the problem (comment if you are too). I also feel that this functionality is better applied to text messages, as some phones don’t support SMS (like house phones).
All-in-all this is definitely an app I will keep using. There have been lots of times where I felt the need to respond to a text message that I was busy, but felt like it was rude to do so, or I was driving and unable to. Away Text alleviates that issue.