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.
Designed for Speed
HTC’s bundled messaging app tries hard to include as many features as possible, but fails to impress because of how slow and unresponsive it is — and that’s the case with most other manufacturer-built apps as well. While these features (such as drafts, private messages and customization options) are certainly nice to have, most users won’t miss them. Textra skips these and instead focuses on ensuring you can launch the app, read through long message threads and reply from a pop-up in a flash.
Textra utilizes a simple UI that’s easy to read, in both its main screens and in its pop-up dialogues. The pop-up allows you to read the message thread from your sender and reply without having to launch the app or switch screens. If you’re sending an MMS, you can add photos, audio or video by recording media then and there or by importing files from your device’s memory. Textra also supports emoji, which you can enable by installing a free plugin by Delicious Inc (the developers behind Textra), and access over 800 colorful icons to send along with your messages.
If you’d like to be selectively alerted about messages, you can easily customize how Textra handles notifications for contacts: simply long-press a conversation in the app and select one or as many contacts as you like and define rules for how you should be notified. You can choose a different color for the icon in the notification area, use a different message tone (or none at all), and even adjust the vibration and LED indicator color (on supported devices).
This works great if you want to make sure you don’t miss texts from contacts that are important to you, or if you periodically receive texts you can’t turn off any other way — I personally opt to receive Twitter mentions and DMs via text because I don’t always get cellular data coverage, but when I’m at home or work I simply leave these muted.
Should you Ditch your Stock Messaging App?
If your phone gives you a hard time when it comes to messaging, you should definitely try something else — and if you don’t need too many features, Textra is a great choice. The app is constantly being updated with user feedback but at its core stays true to the idea of offering a blazing-fast texting experience. If you’re on an older device, this is a no-brainer. If you’re not sure about making the switch, take the app for a spin and see if you’re not converted in a couple of days — it’s free!