iMessage equivalent for Android
February 22, 2014 7:16 PM   Subscribe

Is there a messaging app for Android that works like iMessage -- i.e. capable of handling standard SMS, but seamlessly switching to its own Internet-based service when possible?

I'm very frustrated by all of the messaging options I've seen. Google Hangouts integrating SMS was nice, but I'm still annoyed that SMS conversations are kept in their own threads. WhatsApp and its competitors are also okay, but I can't use them as standard SMS clients to communicate with people who don't want to install them. Frustratingly, Facebook Messenger seems to have worked like this at one point, but then they removed the feature.

Again, just to reiterate what I'm looking for: I want an app that works as an SMS client, but when it detects (by their phone number) that one of my contacts also has it installed and is available, it seamlessly sends its own, internet-based message rather than an SMS. Does this exist for Android? Will it ever exist? And if not, why not -- does Apple hold a patent?
posted by vogon_poet to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Facebook Messenger still works that way for me, I think?
posted by Jairus at 7:59 PM on February 22, 2014

Isn't Whatsapp one of the only messaging apps that uses phone numbers instead of usernames?
posted by Dansaman at 9:27 PM on February 22, 2014

Sadly I think hangouts is the closest thing on Android. Really to be fair, it is a fairly young product. Let's hope they address the issues. I really think they should've rebranded hangouts as Google Messenger and then really went to work to bring it up to parity with iMessage, etc. most of my friends think hangouts is a video chat app! which it is! but much more. Confusing.
posted by dep at 4:32 AM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I believe the app HeyWire does what you are looking for. You will have to use the number they give you though.
posted by phil at 10:14 AM on February 23, 2014

Best answer: So I spent a long time searching after I posted this, and just now stumbled upon TextSecure. It's a very pleasantly designed SMS app (including the wonderful option to "mark as read" from the notification drawer), but if it detects that another user has it, it offers to initiate a key exchange, and once that's done it communicates, encrypted, over the internet just like WhatsApp et al.

Now, of course, this is probably never going to get traction with normal people (even though it's pretty easy to use), but it actually does do exactly what I wanted.
posted by vogon_poet at 5:34 PM on February 25, 2014

Response by poster: Oh, and apparently this same system is now part of the default CyanogenMod messaging app. It's like iMessage for nerds.
posted by vogon_poet at 5:37 PM on February 25, 2014

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