Even with the rise of instant messaging apps, good old SMS still reigns supreme. In fact, a survey last year found that 72% of respondents preferred simple text messaging to any of the new apps.
But how do you get the best SMS experience on Android? You’ll obviously need a great text messaging app, but there are other add-on apps that can bring functionality and features you always wished for.
So we rounded up excellent, free apps that any Android user who texts a lot should install. But whatever you do, be safe in your SMS practices. Remember, even a single text can hack some Android devices.
Best SMS Client: TrueMessenger
Once you get TrueMessenger, you can’t go back to any other text messaging client. It was one of the best Android apps of 2015, and for good reason. TrueMessenger identifies unknown numbers who have sent you messages and relies on crowd intelligence to block spam.
TrueMessenger also has an “Undo Send” feature, much like Gmail’s, giving you a five second window to stop a regretful text from going through.
It has been my primary client for more than a year, and the more you use it, the better it gets. You can block numbers, or entire series of numbers and names, making the spam filter extremely useful. Of course, this also means you don’t get notified of rubbish junk texts that you can safely ignore.
These are just some of its features that make it my favorite tool, but there are questions about its privacy implications — especially since it requires you to upload your entire Contacts book to its database.
Download: TrueMessenger for Android (Free) on the Play Store
Smart Reply Suggestions: Fluenty
Good software is all about anticipating the user’s needs and catering to them. It’s what makes Google Inbox so efficient. The app has a “Smart Reply” feature, which suggests pre-generated replies in boxes based on the content of the email. Click the applicable box, and it’ll be auto-inserted.
That’s what Fluenty (also called Talkey) brings to the table for text messages — and it even works on Android Wear smartwatches, saving you the trouble of typing on a tiny screen. Fluenty’s ease of use is what makes it a treat.
Give it access to your notifications, and every new SMS will pop-up with a Smart Reply option. Tap that to see a list of suggested messages that you can send in one tap. If one fits but you want to add more, simply tap and hold it. You’ll get a text edit window to reply, with the suggestion already inserted into the text box.
Fluenty also mines through your existing Sent folder to find messages you type often, and adds them to its list of suggestions. Plus, you can manually add things to the Custom Reply list. Fluenty also works with other text messaging apps like Hangouts and WhatsApp.
Download: Fluenty for Android (Free) on the Play Store
Reply Profiles and Scheduling: Autoresponder + SMS Scheduler
The last time we looked at apps to send text messages later, Auto SMS stood out since it also let you send automatic replies when you’re busy. In most ways, Autoresponder + SMS Scheduler is an improved version of that, offering a better UI.
The app makes you choose what you want to do right now: set it to autoresponder or set it to scheduler. And that’s key, since this one act stops you from accidentally keeping the autoresponder on when you don’t need it.
The scheduler is easy to set up, as you just need to select the date and time, write the message, and add contacts from your address book.
The autoresponder makes you set profiles and compose replies that will get automatically sent when you activate a profile. It’s a bit like setting up Android’s Priority Mode, but only for SMS.
Download: Autoresponder + SMS Scheduler for Android (Free) on the Play Store
Sync, Read, and Send Texts on Any Device: MySMS
I have been an avid fan of MightyText for a long time, but that has changed recently. These days, MySMS wins my vote as the app to sync your texts across devices, and send and receive SMS from your computer.
Where MySMS excels is in its cross-platform appeal (i.e., it works on computers, tablets, and phones). So you can install MySMS on your iPad and read a text that your Android phone just got, plus reply to that text through your iPad itself. It’s absolutely brilliant, and no other app does it as smoothly.
MySMS also has other cool features baked into it, like message scheduling and favoriting texts. That’s just the free version too, whereas the Premium version adds auto-backup of texts to your Google Drive or Dropbox.
A Few Other Apps: “Nice, But Not Essential”
Every Android user should have the above four apps, especially if you use SMS regularly. But there are a few others which are hit-or-miss, and it’s all about whether you like them or not. Make your own call on these.
Hoverchat for Chat Bubbles: Do you like how Facebook’s Chat Heads appear on your screen, ready to reply without leaving whatever you’re doing? Hoverchat brings that to SMS. Importantly, you can choose which contacts get bubbles and which don’t, so it’s restricted to those you’d have text conversations with, not just a one-off message.
Last Message: Try as you might to improve battery life on Android, it’s going to die at some point. What you need then is Last Message, a simple app that auto-sends an SMS to important contacts — like your significant other — telling them that your phone’s battery has died, which is why you can’t be reached.
Messenger by Google: The simple, official messaging app by Google is now available for download, in case you have a non-Nexus device and want to get the stock Android experience without rooting. It is also lightning-quick at searching through your texts — faster than any other app I’ve seen.
What’s Your Favorite?
Hopefully, this list should give you all the tools you need to make your text messaging experience better than ever before. If you know any other must-have SMS apps, share them in the comments below.
Also, in your daily use, what do you rely on the most: SMS, WhatsApp and other phone-based messengers, or instant messengers like Hangouts? Which one do you prefer and why?