[App Fridays] PlusTxt – It’s got IM, SMS and local language support among other cool features. Will this be your primary messenger?

By Raghu Mohan|11th Jan 2013
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Sometimes the way an app is named can really be detrimental to how it performs in the market, Plustxt is one such victim. I had the toughest time finding this app on the Google Play store because I was looking for Plustext and it threw up all sorts of results. I had to resort to Pratyush Prasanna's visiting card to

find that it was PlusTxt and wallah! First result on Google Play! Problem of app discovery at its ruthless best!Having found and downloaded the app, I could feel the bitter experience of trying to find the app slowly fading away. This is another complete messaging app, with local language support and some really cool features that can be used between two Plustxt users. Having spent some time with the app, there a quite a few good things about the app as well as some niggles that need to be resolved. Read on to find out more - 

Function

I think there is a new breed of messaging apps that have emerged in the recent past, which have successfully integrated text and IM and Plustxt is one of them. The primary function of the app is of messaging and it does that quite well, both over the internet and via text messaging. Other than this, the extra features on Plustxt are - 

  • Local language support - Apart from English, Plustxt supports 7 other Indian languages which can be used to send messages over IM or SMS.
  • Within the IM itself, it offers 2 novel features - 1) You can make messages un-forwardable and 2) You can make your IM delete from the other
  • person's chat after 5 mins.

Pretty basic integrated IM and SMS app. 

Effectiveness

It works. But working and being effective are not the same thing. Here are some things that really work for this app - 

  • The language support - You type in English and you get the equivalent text in the local language pop up. Its pretty accurate as well. It was especially awesome for me because I didn't know how to read or write Tamil (my native tongue) but I could still send texts in Tamil text, which my grandmother could read. Having said that, the local language text only renders on phones with the capability to render that particular language.
  • Integrated IM and SMS - I think this is the way forward for messaging apps. Most popular messaging apps use phone numbers as identification anyway. If you can provide a better experience than the stock SMS messenger and provide an equally compelling need to use the IM on that particular app, it can replace the stock SMS messenger and Plustxt is a good option in this case. A clean user interface and a not very different user experience from stock messaging, Plustxt can be your primary messenger if you have enough friends using it.

The two added features are a novelty. Personally I don't see why you would want to use them. 


UI and UX

At the recently held Mobile India conference, one of the panel discussions was on UI and UX and an interesting inference that we got from there was that most of the time, having a great UI is not enough. The experience is what counts and maybe Plustxt needs to get some work done here. Here's why - 

  • The main selling points of having Plustxt is its local language support and I want to be able to use it on SMS and IM. It is available only on IM and not on SMS. Pratyush, the founder of Plustxt technologies shared that it wasn't a feasibility issue and that it could be easily implemented. The reason for them to do so was to encourage more people to use Plustxt. Well it didn't work with me as I really missed the options bar on SMS. Without it, its just like the stock messenger.
  • And if you really wanted to encourage people to use it, then text notifications on Plustxt should have been default. A new user would have to activate it from the settings. For the longest time, I was only getting messages on the stock SMS messenger before manually activating text notifications for plus text. It also needs to be tightly integrated with the stock SMS messenger. Replies sent from the stock SMS messenger can't be seen on Plustxt.
  • Notifications open on Android open the SMS inbox and not the message as such. One extra click might not seem much but it still isn't the best user experience that can be offered.
  • Pratyush also demonstrated how to use the app so I didn't have a problem using it. A tutorial in the beginning of the app isn't enough for users to understand how to use the app, specifically the language options. In my dip-stick survey, 3 out of 4 people had trouble getting to use the language function and a way to solve this would have been to have small pop up notifications prompting the user to use those functions. It does

As bad as the above flaws might seem, the app is still a pleasure to use once you've figured it out and I think with these issues fixed, the experience will compliment a wonderful interface. 

What we liked

Its a good app. I personally like it for the way it works and the language functionality. Furthermore, as it integrates SMS and IM which I personally root for

and it has done it well. Here are some things that we really loved about the app - 

  • India Language support - Its brilliant and accurate. There are many language options available on stock android and some phones come with this feature inbuilt with their stock messengers. Plustxt opens this functionality to everyone. My special moment was texting my grandma.
  • Integrated IM and SMS - Apps like Plustxt are a great example for messaging apps of the future. We hope to see more such apps come to the surface.

What we didn't like

No app is perfect and there are some flaws with Plustxt. Here are some things that can be changed with this app - 

  • A UX revamp - There are some issues with the experience of some functionalities. It can deter users from coming back to the app.
  • Bug fixes - While trying to initiate a conversation with a Plustxt user for the first time, the app crashes. This should be resolved.

Last Words

I like this app, but only after having figured out how to use the functionality that I love the most. There should be some sort of guide for first time users, guiding them as to how the app can be used. A lot of messaging apps are phone number based and integrating text is just an extension of it, which Plustxt does very well and we'd definitely like to see more apps take this route. 

Overall a great app to use and you should definitely give it a shot. 

Download Plustxt for Android here

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