I’ve pretty much settled back into Android at this point. After discovering some apps that have made the switch from iOS to Android much more enjoyable, I think I’ve really gotten into the groove of things here. Sometimes, though, it still feels like something is missing. Something just doesn’t feel quite right.
As it turns out, my problem area is texting.
It’s petty, I know. My experience with texting on Android has actually been fairly enjoyable since finding an alternative. I knew within a few moments of opening Samsung’s stock SMS app that I wasn’t a fan, and finding Textra made all of the difference. I even paid for the premium version (although it didn’t feel like paying, since I paid with money made passively through Google Opinion Rewards) since I liked it so much. But despite all of the great features that Textra brings to the table, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing wrong with it is that it doesn’t have the same useful features that iMessage does.
I tried to figure out exactly what it was about iMessage that I missed. I have more customization with Textra, and there are a lot of little settings that have made parts of texting easy. However, while Textra made things easy, iMessage made things easier and simpler, and I valued that more.
A lot of it has to do with the fact that I have a lot of friends that use Apple products. It was rarer for me to text somebody using SMS than it was to message them with iMessage. Without that factor, I’m not sure if I could have cared less that iMessage isn’t an option with Android. Even then, though, the seamless integration of iMessage within the SMS app was beautiful. I never had to change anything, or switch between apps.
Another added benefit of iMessage, which was particularly helpful in my case, is that iMessages are sent with data. So for somebody like me who doesn’t get consistently great reception in the house, it was a life saver. Not literally… but it could have been literally. If there was an emergency and I couldn’t send an SMS, iMessage could have sent the message through Wi-Fi (unless, of course, said emergency included knocking out the power). The point is, Apple’s messaging system had two good methods of delivering a message, and I didn’t have to do a single thing to figure out which one worked best.
Textra has given me a lot of fun options for texting. I’m grateful that I don’t have to view the Samsung emojis, which in my opinion look terrible. The GIF finder is handy too – but it’s hit or miss whether the recipient receives an animated GIF as intended, or just a still, pixelated frame of a GIF. There’s no way for me to tell. Sending calendar dates and contacts are nice too. But Textra isn’t helpful when my cell signal decides to drop out, which happens quite often.
It's a little unfair to compare Textra to iMessage, as Textra wasn't meant to be an iMessage competitor. For the “Android equivalent” to iMessage, Google Hangouts seems to be the closest thing. However, I’ve noticed that it’s slowly but surely becoming a non-option as Google strips away important features with each update, likely in an attempt to steer people towards Allo and Duo in the near future – which, we’ve discovered, still isn’t as functional as iMessage in certain key areas.
I don’t think iMessage is the be all end all of messaging apps, but out of all the messaging apps out there, I’ve found that its features are the most useful for me. I’m not really missing iOS as a whole, but I do miss iMessage. I'm not sure if we'll ever see an Android equivalent to iMessage from Google, but I'm still holding out a little bit of hope that one day Apple will put iMessage on Android - and hopefully before it goes the way of BlackBerry Messenger.