App: Handcent SMS
Let me start off by saying that the majority of factory messaging UI’s are a bit bland. They lack customization and often times are just there to serve their function, which is to send and receive text and picture messages. Well Handcent SMS is here to change that. This, too, is another app that I’ve had installed on my various Android devices, all the way back to my Eclair running OG Droid Eris (remember the Eris?). Handcent is a streamline, neat app that offers a plethora of ways to customize your SMS application. First and foremost, it comes with customizable skins. There are some available as soon as you download the app, and more available in Google Play as separate downloads. I’m personally running the Handcent Darkness skin on my Droid Razr as we speak. There are several different skins, ranging from an iPhone skin to a Chinese New Year skin. They are all easily interchangeable from within the app. There is also the available option to set your theme to either a dark or light theme. You can even change your bubble settings to have your conversation bubbles appear in different formats. There are also several different font packs available for download. The coolest thing about Handcent SMS is the pop ups. The pop up message will allow you to read a message and reply without even opening up the app itself. This is available even when the phone is locked. This function is awesome if all you have to do is send a quick reply and you don’t want to unlock your phone and open up the app. The Android OS allows you to select Handcent SMS as the default setting for all text or picture messages. Also, you can still set a specific notification ringtone for messages if you desire. Something that was big for me was the ability to blacklist a number, thus blocking any message from that number. The Handcent SMS app is supported well with several plug ins for different skins, font packs, and emoji. There are even more functions available if you create a Handcent Online account, such as a Privacy Box. Since I have been downloading this app on my various devices, I have only had one minor bug that continues to creep up. Sometimes, this app will delete the wrong message or conversation. Instead of deleting the chosen message or conversation, it will delete the one above or below it. This can be irksome and even down right irritating at times because you can accidentally delete important information. In my experience, this bug does not occur often. Overall, the ability to customize your SMS app, its ability to mimic other popular SMS skins (iPhone, HTC Sense, etc…), and time saving pop up messages make this app a must have for any Android device.