If you’ve been using Android phones for a while now, you should be no stranger to messaging replacement apps. Some focus on the aesthetics and others on extra functions like auto-reply, scheduling, filters, etc., but none of the current lot offer an example that sets a high bar for all future SMS apps. Enter Smart Messenger by XDA-Developers forum member ‘deanwray’ – the messaging app that we believe all others will bow down to. The app – currently in beta – is wrapped up in a great UI that takes cues from Google’s ‘Holo’ design guidelines. The app also comes bundled with a few eye-candy themes (with more likely coming soon), and has plenty of features and advanced settings that will keep you hooked. For example, the app sports a Filters & Rules feature that left my Editor calling it the ‘Tasker for SMS’. Yes, it is that customizable. It also supports scheduling, Google Drive uploads, syncing with the stock SMS app, all while it is still in the works, with a bunch of more features in the pipeline. More on this brilliant app right after the jump.
As mentioned earlier, the app is still in its beta stage, hence there are certain features that are unavailable for now but should be running fine once the final version hits the the Play Store.
The interface is very polished and gives you that clean, minimal look, reminiscent of Google’s Holo design philosophy. The developer has added support for emojis. For now, if you don’t have a contact saved, you will not be able to enter the phone number manually, as the app just wont recognize it.
Sending pictures via SMS is a fairly simple concept, but a neat feature nonetheless. The app uploads the image to your Google Drive account synced with the app and shares the link with the receiver. More on this later on in the review.
Smart SMS is not functional as yet, and regarding it’s purpose, the developer is yet to reveal that. You will also notice the lack of MMS support right now, but again, it is because the app is in beta.
The app opens to your last viewed conversation thread. When viewing a thread, swipe leftwards across the screen to see a list of all conversations, scroll through them and quickly jump to your selection. The ‘More’ button in the top-right corner of the main screen calls he app’s main menu, which is divided into Settings, Schedules and Filters & Rules sections.
Using this feature, you can automate SMS consumption by defining multiple simple and complex rules that are then executed by priority. For example, you can set the app to display or hide texts from certain contacts in the notification area, move them to a different message box, or delete them as soon as they are received. You can also define rules for auto-reply or forwarding and pair them up with the aforementioned rules. The list of possibilities is already quite long, and the developer intends to further enrich this section of the app.
Custom message boxes can be created and managed from the More menu. A passcode can be assigned to each message box to restrict unauthorized access. Want to keep stuff away from prying eyes? Simply enable ‘Hide this destination’ and the message box will not appear in the Message Boxes screen. You can currently manage message boxes and assign messages to them, but the locking feature is still in the works.
Scheduling is much simpler and contains all the usual options – defining a name for the task, the recipients of the text, the message body and the time & date of the first occurrence. You can then set a scheduled text to be sent repeatedly by selecting an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or custom cycle from under ‘Repeat Options’. You can also define till what date or number of texts should the task be repeated.
The ‘Settings & Tools’ section is where you can tinker with the the theme, link your Google Drive account to the app to store pictures and other multimedia, sync with the stock SMS app, etc. The Backup/Restore option isn’t available right now, but will be added in future iterations.
One feature of the interface that really stands out, is the ability to choose between right-handed or left-handed controls. So if you’re a lefty, you can choose the left-handed arrangement to move all the buttons and menus on the far-right of the screen to the left for easier control.
The themes are applied to the entire interface of the app and not just conversation threads or the main screen. The developer plans on including a dedicated theme gallery for the app instead of the simple drop-down menu that’s there at the moment.
Watch the following demo video to see the app in action:
Video courtesy of the developer.
Smart Messenger isn’t available to all on the Play Store right now, but you can grab a testers copy by joining the XDA Android App Testers community on Google+ and following the app’s Play Store link from there. If you’re having trouble finding the entry for the app on the community page, simply hit Ctrl + F in your browser and enter “Smart Messenger”.