Many of you might already know Textra SMS, it's been around for years now, and has been providing users an alternative – often better – experience to the SMS app installed on their Android smartphone. It's gone through a number of revisions, and now fully embraces Material Design, easy and varied customization options and a lot of tweaks to notifications and emoji to make replying to friends and family much quicker. Textra is also designed to be as quick as possible, making it the complete solution for sending SMS messages back and forth, something that a lot of us still do on a regular basis. Textra is packed with good looks, tweakable settings and a speedy engine, so let's see what this has to offer.
If you haven't tried this out before, you just need to download Textra SMS from the Play Store, it's free to do so. After a short optimization period, Textra will be ready to use.
In fact, a nice touch is that Textra gives you an introduction to the look and feel with a conversation of their own.
This fun and fully featured theme continues throughout Textra, and there are oodles of customization options available in the settings.
These couldn't be any easier or more enjoyable to customize. Power users will tell you that an RGB color wheel is the way to go, but Textra gives you a carousel of fancy Material Design style colors, and automatically adjusts text color without any input from the user, it's really quite refreshing.
If you really wanted to, you can even change the look and feel of emoji to those dirty iPhones look.
This customization extends beyond just universal settings though, as you can change things on a per-conversation basis.
Notifications are a big part of what makes Textra so attractive, and it's super-easy to reply from the overhead notification, just like this:
Inserting images, emoji and even sharing contacts is nice and easy with Textra, hitting the "+" icon does all of this in one neat pane, and finding emoji from the thousands on your phone is made easy with a full page scroll of them, too.
Textra is also nice and speedy, it's very quick to send a message and even big conversations (of which all of mine are) scroll quickly without any lag or anything like that. All of this doesn't mean that Textra is perfect, at least for everyone's taste that is. For instance, the default behavior of waking up your device with an SMS is extremely frustrating for me, I bought a smartwatch to get away from all that, thankfully you can take full control of these notifications and easily change things.
The same goes for the font used, the Textra font is nice and all, but with the bold typography used in Android Lollipop, it looks a little out of place. Again, this is easily changed.
Another key aspect of Textra is the ability to schedule and delay messages. So, for me, I could send Joe a message to ask if he's coming online for some PS4 action, and write the message hours before so I don't forget.
I've used Textra before in the past, and I enjoyed it back then, but when Android Lollipop hit with Android Wear, I turned to Hangouts and then Google's own Messenger app. Reviewing Textra now shows me that the team have evolved their app to tick all the right boxes. Customizing the look and feel of Textra could not be any easier, it's intuitive and quick, allowing you to choose a color you like without having to deal with pesky text colors or anything like that. On top of all those bright and colorful options, there's an option to tweak notification behavior to however you like things. I still would like to change the default behavior from waking up the screen, after all that's not natural Android behavior, but you can turn this off in the settings. SMS for me is a big deal, as all of my friends and family still use SMS. I have a handful of people on WhatsApp, but I know that SMS can reach anyone and everyone that I want to get hold of, and with Textra everything is a little more colorful, a little easier to use and super-quick.
- Speed (5/5) – This is a speedy SMS app and it speeds up everything to do with messaging on your device.
- Features (4/5) – While Textra speeds things up and simplifies things, it doesn't do anything new, it's just a better way of doing things, at least it is for a lot of people.
- Theme (5/5) – Customization in Textra couldn't be any easier, all you need to do is select your preferred color and Textra does all of the work for you.
- Overall (5/5) – If SMS messaging is a big deal in your life, then Textra can really add some much needed zing and make the whole process much quicker.
- Short and simple customization options that offer a lot to users, but without the associated hassle or fussiness.
- Notifications can be tweaked to just how you like them, and they can be toned back or turned up, it's up to you.
- Conversation view is easily navigated and everything runs nice and smoothly no matter where you are in the app.
- Sending emoji is easier in Textra than most other apps, it's quick and you can make use of your whole phone display to see the one you want.
- Default behavior of waking up the phone is not natural to Android, although it can be changed.
- More font choices would make the app even more configurable.
Textra SMS has been around for a long time now, and with good reason; it offers users one of the best SMS experiences on Android. Choosing your favorite color combination is nice and easy and there's no need to mess around with a color wheel or anything like that, and all the text colors are automatically adjusted to help make them stand out. Quick, customizable and configurable, there's a whole lot on offer with Textra that you just won't get with your stock SMS app.