Android App of the Week: Handcent SMS
If you’re a keen texter, then you’ll be well aware of the limitations of Android’s default messaging application: it’s basic, ugly and offers few options for those who like to tinker. This week’s Android App of the Week, Handcent SMS, is the perfect remedy for those who want more control over their messages.
For starters, Handcent does away with the default status-bar notification, replacing it with a neat popup that displays the message, its sender and a quick reply box along with some basic options. It’s a far neater way of dealing with a text than having to navigate into the app itself.
Handcent also includes a smart widget that, predictably, improves upon the awkward Rolodex-style tool included by HTC. It takes up half a screen when placed on my Hero’s desktop – rather than the whole screen used by the HTC widget – and displays your last 20 texts along with a picture of the sender. Tap this and you can reply to or delete the particular message, or compose a new one.
If you’re looking for more options then it’s worth delving into Handcent’s menus. Android’s dull text interface can be replaced with a couple of skins, and you can choose to display contact pictures or a different background image within conversations. Numerous graphical elements can be changed, too, from the font and colour of sent and recieved messages to the colour of message windows. Handcent displays these changes in a small preview conversation, too, so it’s easy to see if your tweaks are having the desired effect.
Similar attention to detail is found in Handcent’s notification settings. That handy popup is at the mercy of more than a dozen potential tweaks, and you can even change the style of the notification that appears in Android’s status bar, as well as the colour that your phone’s LED will blink when you’ve got a message.
Paranoid texters can employ Handcent’s security settings, which can protect your texts with either pattern or number locks – or, if you’re more traditional, with a password.
The handy popup, useful widget and fastidious attention to detail mean that Handcent has replaced Android’s default app as our text tool of choice. And, as an added bonus, it’s free – so there’s no excuse not to download.