The Best SMS Text Messaging Apps for Android

Although SMS remains the only way to be sure of reaching anyone with a mobile number, in any country, very few apps currently support it. That’s partly due to the age of the protocol, and partly to advancements by WhatsApp and other messaging apps.

The latest Android app to drop SMS support is Signal (iOS apps were never allowed access to SMS, of course). The developers say it “no longer makes sense” to have an SMS component in the app. Signal reasons that it’s less secure than newer messaging standards, may attract extra data bills, and can confuse users.

Many people do still use SMS, however, not least to communicate with friends and family who may not have the same messaging apps installed or who are on a different mobile operating system. If you need texting on Android, here are your options.

Messages by Google

Courtesy of Google

Messages by Google supports RCS and spam filtering.

The default messaging app on Pixel and Galaxy phones is Messages by Google, although Google is pushing the successor to SMS: rich communication services (RCS). This new standard adds a lot of the extras now taken for granted in modern messaging apps, such as read receipts, group chats, and better photo and video support.

Messages will use either RCS or SMS, depending on what the contact you’re chatting with has access to (factoring in their SMS app, phone, network, and the country they’re in). If RCS is enabled, you’ll see notification bubbles, rather than an “SMS” label in your conversations, and all of the messages in your chat will be end-to-end encrypted.

It’s not the most elaborate or feature-packed app you’ll ever see, but there’s still plenty on offer, especially with RCS. Google can use a dash of AI to set up suggested replies, for example (just like in Gmail), links and numbers can be scanned for spam threats, scheduled messages are supported, and you can also access your chats on the web.

Pulse SMS

Courtesy of Pulse

Pulse SMS manages to pack in a lot of features.

As with Messages by Google, part of the appeal of Pulse SMS is that it can take your SMS out of the confines of your smartphone and let you access it on the web. There’s more to the app as well, though we…