Apple's proprietary iMessage system lets iPhone users send text messages to other iPhone users over a data network, avoiding SMS charges and making texting free, at least within Apple's ecosystem. It's an impressive run-around of the entrenched carrier system - the same basic idea, applied to an agnostic model, has made texting alternatives like WhatsApp fantastically popular. But users found that trying to leave Apple's walled garden was much harder after setting up iMessage with their personal phone numbers.
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.
It never ceases to amaze me how much rooted users can get done with the Xposed Framework customization engine. The latest add-on module lets you expand the somewhat basic canned responses available on Android Wear-enabled text messaging apps. With WearResponses, you can add in just about any custom message to the list that appears on your watch, which should be handy for specific work replies that are too unique for voice detection.
If Facebook's 19 billion dollar deal to buy WhatsApp didn't convince you that messaging apps are big business, then... well, this probably won't convince you either, but you'll be even more wrong. Tango Messenger, a solid entry in the crowded text chat market, has been given a huge investment by a group of companies including China's Alibaba.com. Alibaba invested a whopping $215 million, with an extra $65 million coming from previous Tango investors.
First, we heard that KitKat would bring some changes to the API, breaking many of the SMS apps we've come to rely on. On the day KitKat was released, we were given a more full explanation, shining some light on the technical details and exactly what types of apps would be affected. But did anybody really think this was the end of the story? It turns out that a hidden permission exists which can still grant non-default apps the right to modify the SMS database just like they used to - no rooting required.
You might remember a couple of weeks ago when Google gave developers a heads up about changes to KitKat that might cause problems for SMS apps. At the time, we knew that this only meant there would be a single app in charge of writing to the database, while all of the others would...well, that part wasn't really defined. Today, one in a series of developer videos gave us a little clarification on what it means to be a default app, and what it means for the rest of them.
In a post on the Android Developers Blog earlier today, Google has given us yet another indicator of upcoming changes to the Android platform. When KitKat launches, it will finally introduce a public API for the last remaining functions texting apps could not achieve without diving into private APIs. Developers are often advised to stay away from private APIs since they can change with each new version and may not be kept consistent across different OEMs.
Motorola was probably hoping to save at least a few surprises for its Moto X press event in New York later today, but someone at headquarters pulled the trigger a bit early. The Motorola Connect extension went live in the Chrome Web Store late last night, and it's currently available to install. Not that it will do any good: you'll need a Motorola DROID MINI, DROID Ultra, DROID MAXX, or the Moto X to use it.
Longtime Google Voice users have had but one dream, total integration with the operating system. We've seen a few bits and pieces roll out from time to time, like support for automatic calling through your Google Voice number and having voicemail directly accessible in the stock dialer. But one feature continues to evade us: sending and receiving SMS messages through Voice with 3rd-party apps. CyanogenMod and Koushik Dutta (Koush) have officially broken that barrier with Voice Plus.
Powow: Text Messaging is an alternative messaging app made by Handmark, the company that produced One Louder Apps. Now, I know that you're thinking about all of the other messaging apps on the Market and want to know what makes this one special. The fact of the matter is that only a small percentage of the endless waves of similar apps are worth using, and despite missing a couple key features, Powow is one of few I would consider fully committing to.