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Communication

After the snafu that Blackberry went through when trying to release Blackberry Messenger (BBM) on Android and iOS a couple of weeks ago, the company corrected the mistake this week and re-released the apps with a little caveat: you have to stand in line and wait for an invite to be able to use the service. Putting aside this little hitch in the process, BBM is alive and doing relatively well on Android.

Whether you have never used the Blackberry platform before or you’ve just recently decided to leave it and move to Android, BBM is a valid communication method you can now use to interact securely with your friends, family and colleagues. Here’s everything you need to know about setting it up and using it on Android.

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Whether you’re traveling to a new country, or need to communicate with your clients, learning a language is becoming increasingly easy thanks to technology. Indeed, you can learn according to your personal schedule without the need to dedicate a fixed amount of time to language classes. Thanks to Babbel you gain even more flexibility as you can learn Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish straight from your Android phone or tablet.

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I was recently chatting with a few of my fellow AppStorm writers about email apps. For most of us, it’s almost a non-subject; we use Gmail as our inbox provider, and as a result, we use the official app, which just happens (in my humble opinion) to be the best Play Store offering in the email genre. But there was one writer who had just moved to Android from the Cupertino-based dark side. His main address was hosted on iCloud. Which outstanding non-Gmail app should he go for? Ah, about that…

I’m hoping that in similar future scenarios, I’m going to be able to recommend SolMail. This is an app which has clearly drawn inspiration from the smooth operators of email on iOS, such as Mailbox. But can SolMail really reproduce the kind of sleek design and ease of use pioneered by the Dropbox-owned app?

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In my part of the world, SMS messaging fees are exorbitant and unlimited plans are non-existent. That’s why services like WhatsApp have taken off quickly and become the de-facto messaging solution for everyone, from the tech-minded geek to the older 50-something parents, the hip teenager, and the business man and woman.

The one caveat however, is WhatsApp’s mobile-only limitation. For one, I keep interrupting my work on the computer to unlock the phone and respond to messages, and for two, I have to continuously hammer messages on my phone’s touchscreen. When you suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome like I do, there are days when this is just a recipe for insufferable pain.

Enter WhatsRemote, an app that recently came under my radar thanks to Aatif Sumar. It essentially promises to let you continue your WhatsApp conversations from your computer’s browser. Does it work, and what are its caveats? Let’s take a look.

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Email is essential these days. Virtually anyone who owns a smartphone can be accused of being a Crackberry addict, regardless of the particular phone they own. And although it’s great to be able to get emails no matter where you may be, there’s a downside to this level of connectivity.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll receive a huge volume of email each day. If my phone was to audibly notify me of the arrival of each new message, I would go insane — so I’ve disabled sound notifications. This means that I have to keep looking at my phone to see when I have a new message. Sometimes every hour, sometimes every couple of minutes. It’s infuriating. It drives me mad … almost as mad as constant sounds would do. It’s Catch 22.

What does this have to do with Boomerang? Well, aside from the fact that this is an app that can be used to send and receive emails, not a lot! My point is that email is something we can’t do without. But for too long we have all been constrained by the way email works. Boomerang has been designed to wrestle control out of the hands of email clients and place it back under your command.

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As with any mobile OS, there are a lot of ingredients that go into Android’s mix, and though many of us share likes and dislikes, each of us has a set of favourite features. In my case, Android’s tight integration with the Google Apps services I use on a daily basis makes life a great deal easier, and it was one of the primary reasons I chose to switch to a phone powered by the little green robot.

One key example of this is Gmail. The official app Google provides on Android is brilliantly designed, providing the instantaneousness of IMAP, with the intuitive operation of swipe-to-archive. However, as a (predominantly) Gmail user myself, it had never occurred to me that this glorious messaging experience is not extended to those Android users who rely on email providers other than Google. That seems a real shame.

A new emailing app, Compail, looks like it wants to provide an intuitive, Gmail-like experience to the rest of the email universe. Can it deliver the same slick environment as Google’s custom-built email flagship, though?

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My SMS inbox resembles a SPAM folder more so than a collection of personal correspondence. A couple of years ago, it was jam packed with conversations with friends and colleagues. Now my network provider makes up the bulk of the messages — all automated ones. I’ve been using apps like Viber and Whatsapp for free calls and messaging between my friends. They’re faster, way more media-friendly and don’t cost anything — excluding minuscule data charges.

However, in Asia and some European countries like Spain, a new app called LINE is generating as much buzz as Vine has in the US, gathering itself over 200 million users. It offers everything that Viber and Whatsapp do, only better. It also features a much more robust revenue model and is challenging social networking sites like Facebook as users scramble for privacy.

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Recently, Gmail announced a new way of displaying email that presumably cleans up your inbox and makes you more organized — you can read more about it in Mark Wilson’s review. After using it on both the desktop and my phone, I’ve got to say they’ve done a good job. However, one thing they have not implemented yet is a priority inbox for close family and friends. While the Primary inbox does a nice job of filtering out automatic emails from social networks, shopping sites, and more, there is no way to differentiate work from personal email.

That’s where Dextr comes in. The app bills itself as a new mail experience that brings you closer to the people you love. Dextr’s goal is clear: to make it easier for you to communicate with the people you care about the most.

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There’s nothing I hate more than watching my expensive smartphone struggle just to display a simple SMS — you’d think manufacturers would have figured out how to get this to work smoothly by now but unfortunately, even on an HTC One X, the story remains the same. Thankfully, one of the great things about Android is that you can replace just about every app for specific functions with another of your choosing. If you’re in the same boat and want to get to your texts faster, check out Textra.

Designed to be as quick as possible, Textra combines simple design with a short-and-sweet list of features that allows the app to make light work of displaying and composing messages, even on older phones. It does what it says on the box, and not a whole lot more. Best of all, though, is that it’s free. Let’s take a look at how fast Textra is, and how soon you can ditch your stock messaging app.

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Text messaging – or SMS – is one of the most fundamental functions on any mobile device. Over the last few years, it has arguably taken over voice calling as the single most used feature on a phone. Sure, there have been numerous threats from internet-based multimedia messaging apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Line and more, but the sheer ubiquity of good ol’ SMS text messages has been hard to beat and has kept the technology alive and kicking.

Surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of good dedicated options when it comes to SMS apps on Android. A few stalwarts like Handcent SMS and Go SMS Pro aside, competition has been pretty scarce in this arena. That’s why it’s exciting to see a new contender in Sliding Messaging. I took the app for a spin to check how it fared against Go SMS Pro – which is what I’ve been using for years now. Here’s what I found.

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