Google Messenger Review

Google Messenger Review

Mar 24, 2015

As Android continues to mature, one of the cooler aspects is the way Google has seen fit to not only build its version of mobile utilities, but to also serve a lot of its apps à la carte. Keep, Calendar, Keyboard, etc are great parts of the OS, but pay of their charm is that they are optional pieces.

When it comes to messaging, most observers would probably agree that Android is very, uh… well… an area of opportunity. Definitely not from a lack of options. Oh no. Between Voice, Hangouts and the deprecated Talk, there are quite a few communication tools. And now, the relatively new Messenger throws its hat into the muddled ring.mes2

Messenger is Google’s homogeneous answer to Android device SMS and MMS communication. It’s a slim offering that acts as a replacement for OEM/carrier messaging apps.

Off the bat, it possesses that streamlined, familiar look that Google is clearly looking for with Material Design. There is a lot of white space and blue accents, with the chatted-with contacts appearing as icon circles towards the top left; for each one, there is a text to the right highlighting the last sent/received communication. To the top right, one gets a search button and the three-dot menu, and at the bottom right, there is a circled “+” button for starting new conversations.

When a contact is selected from the main screen (or a new one initiated), the same mostly white motif shows up. Each sequence is denoted by defined chat bubbles, with the user postings aligning right and the person being chatted with gets their words slanted to the left. From the individual contact settings, one can personalize the colors somewhat, such that the text bubble of the contact can be shaded. Calls can also be initiated directly from the individual “pages.”

The main menu doesn’t provide a whole lot more diversity, but one can set up notifications and set up delivery report.

In practice, it works well, as instant as the built in apps (which isn’t shocking).

It would be nice if there was automatic functionality with Goggle Voice, but it’s hard to knock the clean simplicity. It’s a no-frills presentation that mostly works. Yes, i would have appreciated more customization options, but hey.

Is it good enough to replace built-in options? Yes. It’s not necessarily breathtaking, but merely good enough, and that it an intimidating starting point.

Jongla, An Instant Messenger, Gets A Big Update

Jongla, An Instant Messenger, Gets A Big Update

Dec 20, 2013

Jongla 4

Jongla is an instant messenger, oriented towards a young audience, featuring customizable profiles, stickers, and great delivering speed. It’s got updated with a lot of new features. The updates include a new user interface, user search, photo filters and effects, location sharing, new stickers, and more. The app can be downloaded for free from here: Jongla – Instant Messenger on Google Play.

Voxox Launches Over-The-Top Messaging Service For Android

Voxox Launches Over-The-Top Messaging Service For Android

Oct 23, 2013

Voxox 2

Mobile network overgrowth with lots of fragmented, individual messaging services is quite a problem. Voxox is a messaging service that promises to unite mobile users into one network, using cloud-based servers. Not only does it allow its users to talk freely inside of it, but it also allows sending SMS messages to other services for dirt cheap. Voxox can be downloaded for free from here: Voxox on Google Play.

Dinamotxt Review

Dinamotxt Review

Sep 4, 2013

Texting someone is probably most convenient way to talk to a person these days. I personally send thousands of texts a month. When compared to the few hundred minutes a month I talk, if even that many, I see the need for better messaging apps. NOt so much what the app can do, more like where I can use it. Dinamotxt is a pretty great way to text from any connected Android device, as well as a computer.

Dinamotxt-2In a nutshell, Dinamotxt lets the end user sign in via Google+. This is what links all of the devices together. When logging into the website (web.dinamotxt.com), make sure to be logged into the same Google Account as on the phone and/or tablet for everything to sync up.

Once all signed in, everything is pretty straightforward. When a message comes in, it can be read and replied to from any of the devices connected to the account. What I thought was cool too is, I am a longtime user of GO SMS Pro. SOme of the apps like this I have tried don’t work so well with 3rd party SMS apps. Dinamotxt works the same with the stock messaging app and GO SMS Pro.

The speed of Dinamotxt is great. Some other apps have a lag when sending or a longer refresh time for the web portion. Dinamotxt is really quick. I can hear the notification on my phone, switch to the open tab in my browser with Dinamotxt running and the message will be right there.

Sending a message from the website is pretty easy too. There is a little plus sign at the top of the phone pictured. If it’s not visible, press the back arrow on the phone pictured until all of the current message threads are shown. Clicking it will open a new message. Add the contact, type the message and press send. Pretty easy.

Intel Creates Pocket Avatar, an Avatar and Gesture-Based Social Platform

Intel Creates Pocket Avatar, an Avatar and Gesture-Based Social Platform

Aug 29, 2013

Intel-CatFace-Thing

Intel decided to try and revolutionize social interactions on the web with a new messaging platform, called Intel Pocket Avatars. This app allows users to use its facial recognition software to control their avatars with just their facial expressions. Users can record an audio or text message, smile, and the avatar on the other end of the line will play the recorded message and smile as well. I don’t have a faintest clue as to the specifics, requirements and limitations of such a service, but anyone willing to participate in the beta can fill the form and apply here: Intel Pocket Avatars On Google Docs

Free App Recap – SMS Add-on Apps

Free App Recap  – SMS Add-on Apps

Mar 5, 2013

A while ago we talked about different SMS apps for Android. These text messaging apps were a total replacement for the stock messaging app. The benefit of those apps is they have a whole lot of new features. While this is great for some people, others just want an added feature like a pop-up window when they receive a new message. For these people there are SMS add-on apps like the ones in this list. Let’s have a look at some text messaging add-on apps.

SMS Popup Alert

Only a few stock SMS apps have some sort of option to show a pop-up window for new incoming messages. This saves some clicking or opening up the notification bar to see who the message was from and what it said. Once installed, a pop-up window will appear with the incoming message displayed in it. There is a choice to reply or drag it to the trash right from the pop-up window. This may not work with 3rd party SMS apps.

Download SMS Popup Alert

SMS Backup +

SMS Backup + is a great app for backing up message threads. When a message thread gets into the 1000 messages or longer range, some phones or apps can slow down and take a whole to load the thread. Having an app to backup the messages, deleting them every couple of days is easier to do. They are backed up to Gmail and placed in a label called SMS. Also, SMS Backup + will backup call logs and place them in Google Calendar if desired. This is great for people who need to track calls for work or other reasons.

Download SMS Backup +

Vault-Hide SMS, Pics & Videos

From time to time there may be a need to hide a picture or message from prying eyes. Using an app like Vault-Hide will surely do the trick. Not only is there an option to hide images, SMS messages and even Facebook messages can be hidden from people trying to see who is chatting or sending images. I know there are a lot of reasons to hide a picture or message from people. Not only for the inappropriate images, it can be for work messages that might be sensitive and shouldn’t be seen by other people.

Download Vault-Hide SMS, Pics & Videos

Pocket.do Review

Pocket.do Review

Oct 10, 2012

What is Pocket.do? Why, it’s an incredibly powerful tool for remotely accessing an Android device, one that provides useful features, but at the cost of battery life. A lot of it.

Start by downloading the app and running it on the phone, setting up a unique passphrase required to access the phone. The app can be remotely accessed from any web browser in one of three ways: by connecting a Google account, connecting a Facebook account, or by scanning a custom QR code on the phone itself in order to authorize the app. Then, the five features can be accessed. Text messages can be read from the web and responded to. New messages can be sent, and it’s possible to export lists of messages to a computer.

Need to remotely access contacts that are on the device? That’s posssible with Pocket.do. Pictures can be uploaded to the app and made accessible. Granted, these are both functions that other apps like Dropbox have also done, and have done them very well, so this may not serve much use.

Now come the fun things. Location allows for a device to be found based on its current map location. It can also be tracked to see where it is going. Need it to make an alarm sound? That’s possible through the map function as well. Great for finding that phone. It may serve as a rudimentary anti-theft feature, though turning off Pocket.do is pretty simple. It also would make for a very poor spying utility.

Also, there’s a Spy-Cam feature, which opens the camera and takes photos every 2.5 seconds. Flash can be enabled, and torch mode for illuminating what’s around. Note that the photos do seem distorted on a 16:9 device, there’s no actual video capture, and only the front-facing camera can be used with it.

The downside to Pocket.do as a tool for regularly checking SMS from the web is quite simple: it uses up too much battery life. I noticed at least a 15% drain in about 45 minutes on the Galaxy S III; not something for leaving around with the phone unplugged. As well, it sent about 35 MB of data over cellular at the time; if on a tiered data plan with wifi unavailable, that could be problematic. A low-power mode for just sending/receiving messages would be a great addition! Until then, this app serves as an interesting diversion, but maybe not quite the useful tool that it really could be.

Remotely View Call Logs and Manage Who’s Calling with cBlocker

Remotely View Call Logs and Manage Who’s Calling with cBlocker

Oct 4, 2012

For those looking to remotely control their phone’s features, Android offers plenty of options to do just that. cBlocker is another choice, one that’s designed primarily to manage a phone’s permissions with calling and texting. Want to restrict calls and texts from certain numbers? It can be done over the web with cBlocker. There’s the ability to view call logs from the web, to see who’s been calling and when. Calls can also be set to be forwarded to another number at a given time, so those who want to leave their work phone at work but not miss urgent calls can do so.

cBlocker claims their product is designed for managing family phones – perhaps that daughter is spending too much time with that heartthrob down the street who practically sparkles. As well, it could be used to ensure that work phones are actually used as work phones. The service comes with a free trial, and there’s an add-on for a ‘hidden’ version of the service that should be undetectable by users. Remember, spying is bad. cBlocker is available now from Google Play.

Drunk Text Blocker

Drunk Text Blocker

Aug 9, 2012

The drunk text is the perfect intersection between the perils of anywhere communication and the flaws of human interaction. Because sometimes during a night of imbibing to make Dionysus proud, we tend to say things to people we shouldn’t say them to. If only technology could be used to stop this from happening!

Well, now it can! With Drunk Text Blocker, it’s now possible to not send those embarrassing messages. Just set the app’s outgoing block settings for a certain person, and texts to that person will be automatically blocked. As well, the app can scan texts for mentions of the name to make sure that no embarrassing texts are sent. As a bonus, it can block incoming texts as well.

Sadly, Drunk Text Blocker cannot be scheduled to activate at certain times. Some HTC phones don’t work with it. It can’t detect texts sent from all third party apps, either. However, no one ever said technology in place of responsibility would be a smooth experience. Drunk Text Blocker is free from Google Play.

SMS2Mail Makes it Easy to Backup Text Messages

SMS2Mail Makes it Easy to Backup Text Messages

Mar 19, 2012

SMS2Mail promises to solve what may be a problem for some users: losing text messages. Whether it’s constantly having to clear out the data on a phone due to constantly installing new roms, or constantly losing one’s actual, physical phone, it’s easy to lose messages. Not any more with SMS2Mail, which automatically forwards messages sent to the phone to any email address. By default, it sends to the default Google account on the phone, but this can be customized to a different address. As well, messages can be CC’d to another person. It’s also possible to forward outgoing messages. Need evidence to prove that yes, that text actually was sent? Boom, here it is.

SMS2Mail can run silently in the background, or even as an active process with a constant notification. Lose data connectivity? SMS2Mail will queue up those text forwarding emails and send them when data service is restored. The app is available for free from Google Play.