After writing part one, I got some tips on apps from readers and forum users that I should try that worked out great for them. One app that was brought up multiple times was an app called, MySMS. I went to the Play Store and checked out what the description to see what it offered. Based on what I read, MySMS seemed to offer a solid solution for getting iMessage-style messaging on Android, and heck, with multiple people suggesting it, I had to give it a shot. The aspect that stood out the most was the simplicity of the app, but a question burned in my mind: “Would this ‘simplicity’ provide a truly seamless messaging experience or a disjointed mess?”
MySMS is an app that integrates carrier SMS with their MySMS messaging service. Simplicity is their catch, and it is seen immediately after opening the app for the first time. Upon opening it, you’re greeted by a wizard that automatically sets up your MySMS account, which includes integrating your phone number with it. This provides the fastest and easiest solution out of the replacement SMS apps like GO SMS Pro and Handcent. When you reach your inbox, you’re ready to go for data messaging and carrier SMS. Just like many other data messaging services, MySMS has cross-platform support, so Android and iPhone users can easily communicate with each other through it, along with the standard delivery confirmation for your MySMS messages and SMS. MySMS also provides the best desktop solution messaging currently available. Unlike MightyText or DeskSMS, MySMS doesn’t rely solely on your browser through a web extension/app or Gmail. MySMS has an actual desktop application that you can download to your Windows PC or Mac. This allows you to message through your computer without having to worry about keeping your browser active.
MySMS offers some powerful features, but it has a few issues holding it back, the biggest one being the lack of MMS support. You read correctly, there is NO MMS SUPPORT from MySMS, which is unacceptable at this point for SMS replacement apps. When you try to send a MMS, MySMS sends a SMS with a link to view the attachment. While this might not sound so bad, in the age of malware on mobile devices, this could be a bit discouraging getting a link to view a “picture.” This also means that when you attempt to send multimedia content to people through this app, it’ll use your data connection to upload it to MySMS servers where if sending through normal MMS is not counted towards you data allotment. Now, this is a case when sending media through other data services like iMessage and GO Chat; however, not everyone is connected through these services. If you send media to someone not connected to the service you’re using, then it’ll be sent via MMS with no impact on your data (which is the case for a large majority of messages sent) allotment. With MySMS, all your media messages sent will use your carrier data. The data usage also goes both ways since every time someone receives a link to the media, they’ll have to download it from the server which uses their data allotment as well. I talked with some of the people behind this app, and their reasoning for not including MMS was to make it as simple as possible for their users. I, personally, don’t find that to be a very good reason since basic MMS options could be included without creating any issue for the user. While I would like to see advanced options such as MMS size limit, how to handle compression, etc., they could be omitted for simplicity.
The lack of MMS also means no group messaging. There is a somewhat misleading group message option in the settings, but it comes down to two ways to send to a group. The first option is old school messaging, or broadcasting, where if you add multiple people, it’ll send it to all those people and create a separate conversations for them in your inbox (or just add on to existing conversations with each person). The second option is that it does a “semi-joint” conversation, which it tries to create a group conversation thread, but what ends up happening is that your message just appears outgoing (and will appear in that thread multiple times based on how many people you sent it to) and when people respond, it still goes back into a separate conversation for each individual. So essentially, the second option is nothing more than creating a faster way to broadcast to a group.
For the web/desktop apps, there were two issues I had it with. The first issue, which is a minor complaint, is that a couple UI decisions. Normally, when using any messaging app, you expect the text box to be on the bottom and messages following a standard ascending order scheme (oldest messages at top and latest at bottom), but with the web app it’s the opposite on both aspects. The text box is at the top and the messages are in a descending order. It takes a bit to get used to, but I’m just not found of it. I also didn’t like that there was no option to set it so that hitting “Enter” would cause it to send the message instead of inserting a break. The second issue relates to the lack of MMS support, so both MMS group messages and standard MMS messages will not show up in the web/desktop apps, which creates a detached experience since you still have to check your phone to make sure you aren’t missing any messages.
My last few issues aren’t as big as the MMS, but I did have issues with the pop-up widget popping up while in the app. This was an annoyance because not only would it pop-up while I’m reading or composing a message, it would also force me out of the app and back to the home screen. This might be a bug, since the developers I talked to suggested that pop-ups shouldn’t be happening in app, so hopefully this will be fixed. The options overall where a bit lacking (user simplicity and all), but I didn’t like that if you want repeating notifications for unread messages, it would only give you the option to repeat EVERY minute. I like to set it up to repeat once after five minutes, and that’s it. I also would like to see more themes available (virtually none right now) because the UI is nice, but plain. Also, the big check marks for delivery confirmation are hideous. There are no options for smileys or emoji, so you’re stuck with the ugly Android smileys. I would also like to see an option to support “Read” status updates, as many apps do not currently offer that feature.
When it comes down to which is the best solution right now, it will come down to you as the user. For anyone like me who enjoys customization and the aesthetics of their app, and sharing media with friends and family, I would recommend avoiding MySMS for now. The lack of MMS and themes, and weak settings, is a huge turnoff and leaves the app very lacking. There aren’t enough people using MySMS (compared to iMessage and Whatsapp) to rely on a consistent experience for data messaging, so MMS is a huge feature that needs to be added. Now if you’re someone who doesn’t care about group messaging, themes, customization, and does little media sharing or don’t care that it takes away from your and the people’s you’re message data plans at all times, and want the best Android unification of messaging across different devices, then MySMS is the right app for you. If the developers incorporate, at they very least, full MMS support and fix the pop-up notification bug, I will be able to give this app my full recommendation over all others currently available. Opting out of these features for the sake “simplicity” could be seen as an insult on the average user’s intelligence, or the developers putting less effort into the Android app and focusing on other platforms. You can check out MySMS at the Play Store!