Sliding Messaging Pro has become my favorite messaging app on Android. Despite some occasional glitches, developer Jacob Klinker has worked diligently on the project to improve the interface, which is now a far superior messaging experience than the stock Android messaging app.
The latest update is a rather radical redesign that places all of the conversations inside cards for better viewing. The original aesthetic of sliding is still there – just swipe any direction to go through the conversations or to get back to the main list. Each contact also is displayed at the top of the conversation (if you wish) for a quick glance at their information.
Unfortunately none of this will quickly take you to that profile’s contact card. This is a feature that would be a good addition in a future update.
Sliding Messaging Pro now handles MMS very well. The feature only came into being with the app recently, though it greatly improves it not only through the ability to send a picture but also as a way to send longer messages. You can set how long the message limit is prior to sending it out as an MMS. This prevents your contacts from getting several messages from you just because there was too much text.
Probably my favorite feature is one that is fairly inconsequential – Sliding Messaging Pro supports Emojis. So if you are chatting with iPhone-toting friends their green messages will at least be accented by those lovingly annoying picture messages.
The interface also has a lot in common with the cards motif that appear in Google Now and also look like will be dominant in the Google Glass interface.
Facebook Messenger adds chat heads
While not all Android devices will get Facebook Home, just about any Android phone can get Chat Heads. This feature adds a popout icon with a profile picture of anyone you are chatting with via Facebook Messenger.
The notice stays until you tap on the person’s head (literally) and reply. The chat heads will stay on the home screen until you tap, hold, and drag them away. I found that while it is convenient for keeping up with messages and a nice innovation, it can ger rather annoying and get in the way of productivity.
If you so desire Facebook Messenger can also handle all your SMS/MMS messages (it can’t send the latter). If you have a lot of friends who communicate via Facebook Messenger, it makes for an experience much akin to iMessage. All of your messages are included in the main inbox, with Facebook chats turning blue and SMS turning green when sending and receiving messages.
When beginning a new message, typing a contact’s name will reveal both their Facebook and Android contact details. Choose the method you want to message them with and begin typing.
The messaging space should get more interesting with Google likely to launch an all-inclusive messaging platform to unify its current stratified applications. Much of the information on the web points to the product launching rather soon; most likely at Google I/O in May. While the name Google Babel has been widely discussed, it is not clear if this will be the final name for the product when it launches.
It is one of the last major missing pieces in Android. Additionally, the entire messaging space is too stratified and lacks one cross-platform tool that can connect messaging across mobile and web. While iMessage does this very well for iOS/Mac users, it leaves too many people out.