One of the most important aspects of Android is customization. I love the fact that I can replace almost any app with an alternative from the Play Store that better meets my expectations. One of the first apps I install is Textra. Textra is an SMS and MMS app that replaces the stock messaging app, and while there are many apps out there that share the same basic function as Textra, I believe Textra takes the cake. Here’s why.

Developer: Delicious

Price: Free with ads. Premium removes ads forever.

Highlights:

  • Great customization
  • Reliable
  • Looks great
  • A ton of message options

Key Features

Textra, like many other messaging apps, is centered around a list of threaded conversations. Where Textra differs from others is the ability to swipe the conversations left or right for more actions. A swipe to the left will reveal a trash icon to delete the thread and a swipe to the right reveals a phone icon to enable you to make a call straight from the conversation list. The graphics look great and the integration is great.

Textra convo list

Inside your conversation is where Textra becomes very powerful.

Tapping the contact picture in the top right corner opens up their contact card with options to make a call or go into their contact entry in your phone book.

textra contact

Tapping the plus sign above the keyboard opens up a ton of options. Here you can select an emoji, take a picture directly from the app, browse through your gallery to pick a picture to send to your friend, time delay a message, share a contact card, or find a gif to send to a friend. That’s right, Textra supports the finding and sending of gifs through giphy.

The ability to schedule a text message to go out at a specific time is super convenient. Whether you want to be the first to wish a friend happy birthday at 12:01 on their special day, or you don’t want to risk waking someone up with an early morning text, message scheduling removes the human error involved in remembering to get back in your SMS app to send out important info. I use this feature a few times a week and it’s always reliable.

Quick Reply is baked into the functionality of Textra. When you have a new text notification, tapping the alert will open up a quick reply prompt that shows you a small snippet of your conversation and the full keyboard. I personally love this feature because it lets me stay within the app I’m in and reply to a message easily. We’ll have to see if this feature evolves in Android N as Google is introducing quick replies from within the notification shade.

textra quick reply with keyboard

Customization

Textra gives you pretty powerful customization tools for a texting app. In the customization window you’ll find options for background color (light, dark and black), a ton of theme colors that control the color of the top bar and accent color, bubble colors within the conversation window, and app icon color. I went with a pretty stock look since I really love how Textra looks out of the box. The dark background with blue and green accents really looks great on an AMOLED screen.

Within the app, Textra by default substitutes its own font for the system font, but you have the ability to to change it to the system default. I’ve left it on the Textra font since I like how it looks, but those of you who are into selecting your own system font will want to check out that option. The app also lets you make the most of your space by giving you a sliding bar to determine how big you want your text. Even my mother, who refuses to admit she’s blind as a bat, could read text with as big as it gets in Textra.

textra text size

The customization doesn’t stop there. Message bubble style and Emoji style are also customizable. You have six bubble options to choose from that only differ a little bit from each other. Nothing crazy here. Emojis are a different story. You are given options here that cover the system default, Android style emojis, Twitter, Emoji one, and iOS. The iOS style seems to be a popular pick since Apple makes emojis a point of focus. Textra also updates emojis often so you don’t have to wait for a system update from Google to get the newest ones.

The customization goes beyond what you see within the app. Notification customization is a big aspect of Textra that lets you make the app your own. I previously mentioned the quick reply window, and it plays prominently in the notification customization.

You have three options when you tap a text message in the notification shade: Quick Reply with Keyboard, Quick Reply without Keyboard, and Full app. I mentioned that I prefer the Quick Reply because I can stay in the app I’m currently in. If you get long text messages or want more context in your conversation, you can choose the no keyboard option to make the thread appear a bit longer.

Other options include how long you want the notification to show up for when your phone is locked or unlocked, the icon you want to show up in your notification shade, LED blink color, the message sound, vibration options and whether you want the screen to light up when the message is received. As someone who used an app for years just to wake up the screen when I got a message, that’s one of my favorite features of Textra.

Textra notification options

Conclusion

Textra immediately replaces the stock messenger every time I set up a new phone. The combination of stability and options are a compelling mix that can meet the expectations of anyone who installs it. I’ve been using apps made by Delicious since back in my jailbroken iPhone 4 days and I’ve always been happy with its products and the effort it puts into them.