If there's one thing I learned from upgrading several family members' Android devices over the past week, it's that people are really attached to their WhatsApp history. While my smartphone days kicked off in 2007 with switching to a new review unit every couple of weeks (followed by flashing a new ROM at least once a week in 2011-2012) and learning to let go of everything I couldn't bother to move around, most users aren't accustomed to losing their data. They want their new device to have exactly what their old one had: their contacts, chat history, photos, music, and so on.
Whatsapp gets all the attention, but Telegram has a lot going for it too. This messaging app features full end-to-end encryption and a modern material theme. As of v2.5 it also has a photo editor and optional passcodes for improved privacy.
One of Pushbullet's coolest tricks is the SMS reply functionality accessible on your computer. Just hit the reply button on your PC or Mac when a synced notification pops up, and you can type a reply. There's a new update today that extends this feature to the top messaging apps on Android, but there are a few small caveats.
Oh my. This is creepy. And cool. Very cool. It has stalker-like potential and unequivocal convenience. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Imagine you get a message from a contact, through SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or other apps. You start talking to said contact and they go on blabbering about some very important event that happened in their life. You haven't the faintest idea what that is because, let's face it, you do not have the luxury of spending your entire day checking Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Seven hundred million is a big number. 700 million of almost anything is a lot, but when you're talking about users, it's the kind of number that makes investors and analysts start to drool. It's also the amount of monthly users that popular alternative messaging app WhatsApp now has, at least according to an announcement by CEO Jan Koum. For context, Facebook initialized a purchase of WhatsApp last February (finalized in October) for approximately 22 billion dollars, when the service reportedly had "only" 450 million users.
You may not use WhatsApp to send messages, but it's still the most popular messaging platform in the world. As such, it's a big deal when the switch gets flipped and all those messages are suddenly encrypted. That's what the company is doing now thanks to the just-announced integration of the TextSecure protocol from Open Whisper Systems.
Ever since we first took a look at Motorola's Nexus 6 (and subsequently saw it leaked and finally announced) there's been a question about that blue and white icon in the dock. We learned directly from Google that it would be a new app called Messenger, that sounds like it will - for all intents and purposes - replace the AOSP messaging app that used to appear on stock devices.
The "floating notification" style of app seems to be popular with a small but enthusiastic subset of users. Now those users have at least one more alternative, this time encompassing a wide range of texting and chatting apps. Meet Snowball, designed by a team that's being directly funded by a prospective investment from Google Ventures, among others. The idea behind the app is to create a unified messaging inbox that floats above the rest of Android.
Android users have yet another option for data-only calls and text messages today, as BitTorrent Inc. posted an alpha version of its Bleep communication client to the Play Store. Bleep is designed to be an alternative to conventional calling and texting systems like Skype or WhatsApp, and requires no central server or service. Bleep has been invite-only since July, but now it's ready to go public. Clients are also available for Windows and OS X computers.
Don't try too hard to pitch a product. When I first came across Toymail, I thought it seemed amusing enough. Here's the concept - people (preferably parents, siblings, or friends) speak a message into an app, and that message then comes out of a kid's toy in a weird voice. There's potential for fun here. Sure, I see it. I've been a kid before.