Group texts can be a lot of fun, especially when you start sharing links, GIFs and other fun media. But it's always a problem when someone with a different operating system joins the party.
You're chatting with a bunch of iPhone owners, taking full advantage of stickers and preview links, changing the name of the conversation. But then you invite someone with an Android to the group chat, the blue bubbles turn green, and you're no longer able to use any of the fun features. There's a way to solve that, though.
Google's Allo is packed with useful features, not the least of which is Google Assistant, which brings a lot to the table. Even so, it takes a lot to make someone switch from what they're using now, especially if their friends use it. What's your favourite texting app? Are you sticking with it?
There's a place where different colour bubbles don't matter. A place where everyone can use the same features, see the same emoji, and see the same content. That place is Facebook Messenger.
Facebook has been adding so many features to its instant messaging platform that it not only makes it fun to use, but extremely convenient and accessible. In a way, it's better than regular SMS. Here's why.
It works anywhere there's Wi-Fi
With Messenger you don't have to worry about having a mobile phone data plan. As long as you have Wi-Fi, you'll be able to use it. The good thing nowadays is that there's Wi-Fi almost everywhere. Especially in a big city like Sydney where you can find free Wi-Fi on the streets.
You can customise it
You can practically change everything about a Messenger conversation. You can give your friends nicknames and change them as often as you'd like under "Edit Nicknames". You can also change the name of group chats to anything by simply hovering your cursor over the group chat name and typing something different. Then there's also the feature to assign a specific emoji reaction under "Change Emoji". Whichever emoji you choose will replace Facebook's generic thumbs up emoji button.
The coolest feature, though, is changing the colour of the group chat. There's an entire colour pallet that changes the colour of the text bubbles. It can be pink, green, purple, brown, you name it.
You can play games within the chat
If you're ever bored at work (or anywhere else, really), you can invite your friends to play soccer or basketball or by simply sending a soccer ball or basketball emoji (this only works on mobile). Clicking the small icon will launch a mini game within the messaging window in which the goal is to score as many points as possible and beat your opponents high score.
You can also play games such as Words With Friends by clicking on the game controller icon that's on the keyboard bar (this works on both mobile and desktop).
Links show up as previews
A lot of SMS apps, such as iMessage, already display links as previews, but not when being sent to someone with an Android. If you send a link via Messenger, it will preview the website, YouTube video or social media post in a small thumbnail. This is great because sometimes you don't have to leave Messenger to be able to watch or read what your friends sent you and you can react to it immediately.
Also, if your friends send you a Facebook event of group, it's easier to see since you're already connected to Facebook. The app will automatically redirect you to the event page.
Your boss will think you're working
The best thing about Messenger is that it works just the same on both your smartphone and computer. You can login via the app or on browser and have the exact same experience. If you're at work and communication with friends via Messenger, you don't have to go back and forth between your computer and phone to make dinner plans. All you have to do is open a new browsing tab and type away. Oh, and if you have a strict boss, he or she will probably think you're super busy and concentrated working -- not chatting your life away on Messenger.
Read receipts are always on, so no one can ignore you and get away with it
If you're a person who hates waiting on the response of another person, Messenger is ideal for you. Facebook made sure that read receipts are always on so you can call out people when they see your message and don't respond. Under every text bubble, you will see when someone has read your message and ignored you. If they have read it, you'll see a little circle with their profile photo in it. If they haven't you'll see a circle with a checkmark on it (which lets you know they have received it).
You can delete messages
When you're texting, you're prone to make mistakes -- a lot of them. But when you're texting via SMS there is no option to delete your embarrassing typos or accidental confessions to the wrong person. With Messenger you can delete any message you send. You just have to click on ellipsis next to each text bubble and the "delete" button will appear.
Voice messaging and video chats are also available
Messenger is not only great for text conversations, but also for voice and video chats. The apps has a tiny microphone and video camera right next to the text input bar that lets you send quick audio recordings or launch a video conference call -- like Skype. The cool thing about these features is that they're extremely easy to use and you already have all your contacts at the tip of your finger -- you don't have to log in to any other website or app.
You can replace Messenger with SMS on Android
This one is just for Android users. But if you have an Android phone, you can make all of your SMS conversations appear in Messenger as purple threads -- alongside your blue Facebook chats. Go to settings, select "SMS", and turn on "Default SMS App", and you'll see SMS sync up to your Messenger. This will not stop you from receiving and reading SMS in other apps, including the standard Android system.
You can encrypt your messages
Increasingly, people have been asking tech companies to add message encryption to their messaging apps. Facebook has added the "secret" option on the top right of the "new message" screen. This allows users to send friends a Snapchat-like ephemeral messages that can last anywhere between five seconds and one day. The secret messages feature is completely optional, but if used, no one can read those messages except the two people on either end of a conversation. Neither Facebook, law enforcement or intelligence agencies will be able to spy on you.