AH Tech Talk: Are Text Messages Reinventing Themselves In A Post-Text World?

 

There is little doubt that smartphones are becoming the prominent form of communication. While phones only initially allowed users to call one another, this was at the time, the fastest and most effective way to communicate with someone else. A few years after mobile phones become a fact of life, texts messages (aka SMS) also started to rise in popularity. Why call someone when you only need to tell them something quickly? Much easier, just to text. In fact, it became so dominant in the late nineties and early 2000's that language began to adapt to allow users the ability to communicate more information within the limited allotment of characters which could be used. This was the language of 'text talk' or 'txt talk', 'txt spk' and so on.

Well, with the introduction more recently of what we now know as the 'smartphone', texting has become much less of a needed entity. With smartphones, came apps and with apps, came messenger apps, the ability to email on the go, notifications and so on and so on. With such a now wide use and availability of smartphones, it would be easy to assume texts are done for. That their time had come. However, that does not seem to be quite the case. If anything, texts seem to be re-establishing themselves as a uniquely needed entity.

There is a couple of reasons for this. For instance, while smartphones have become so much more the 'norm', they are not the norm everywhere. Dumbphones are on the whole subsiding, in terms of their sales, but the rate of subsiding depends heavily on region. In some regional markets, smartphones are either not readily available or too costly for local users to buy. Texts on the other hand, are immune to geographical issues and restrictions. Texts are globally available and cross-platform/device/carrier compatible. This means anyone can effectively reach anyone else on the planet and almost instantaneously. Texts are as fast as an email and delivered without the need for a notification. In fact, they are in effect, their own notification. That said, their speed and global availability is not the only reason. As technology progresses, the need for dependence of texts as a global communication tool will lessen. However, in more recent times they seem to have developed a much more modern purpose. Security.

As more and more of us become invested in internet purchasing, online personal data and identity protection we have seen more of a trend towards what is known as 'two-factor authentication'. Now, for most users, this is probably more of an annoyance than an aid, but that is, in fact, why it is so powerful. The ability for a company to verify your identity by sending your registered device (typically your phone) a text is an inevitable way to ensure that you and only you are accessing your account. Texts seem to have become to go-to method to verify your identify. It is their immediate, automatic and personal touch that seems to have made them such a tool for companies to deploy. Bearing in mind, this includes companies whose ethos you would expect to be replacing texts (think Twitter, think Facebook).

In fact, it seems the use of texts as a means of identification will continue in the future, if not grow more, suggesting that while most assume texts might disappear, the truth is they are unlikely to at all. Their use and purpose are simply adapting to fit in with the communication landscape currently used. Similar to how mail has not been replaced by email, texts are adapting to their environment. As such, texts are currently on the same path to reinventing themselves as snail mail did. Are you stuck a text user? Do you see them ever fully disappearing from you life? Let us know.

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About the Author
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John Anon

Editor-in-Chief
John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]
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