If you’ve been using Facebook Messenger over the past few months, you’re probably familiar with the Chat Heads feature. For those not in the know, Chat Heads are floating icons that appear on your screen whenever you receive a new message.
It’s a great feature, since you can read and reply to messages without having to switch between apps. But did you know that you can also have Chat Heads for your SMS contacts? Yes you can, with an app called Ninja SMS.
Ninja SMS is an SMS app for Android that brings Chat Head-like functionality to text messaging. In addition to Chat Heads, it also has a number of other features such as message encryption and Emoji support, as well as a nice-looking and elegant interface. If having Chat Heads for your SMS contacts sounds like it’s up your alley, read on.
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Getting Started With Ninja SMS
Ninja SMS works on any Android device running Android 2.3 or newer. First, download and install the app from the Play Store. Once you have it installed, you have to set it as your default SMS app. This will differ according to device and Android version. If you’re on Android 4.4, it’s as simple as going into Settings > More… > Default SMS app and selecting SMS Ninja.
It’s a bit different for earlier versions though, as you don’t have this option. Instead, you’ll have to go to your default messaging app and disable Notifications and Auto-retrieve for MMS. Once you’ve done that, go to Notifications Settings in Ninja SMS and make sure that notifications are enabled.
Using Ninja SMS
By far the biggest appeal of Ninja SMS is of course its Chat Heads feature. You could even argue that Ninja SMS actually does Chat Heads better than Facebook Messenger. One of the best things about Ninja SMS’ Chat Heads is that you can choose which contacts will appear as Chat Heads.
That way, only your most important contacts’ text messages will appear as Chat Heads. Of course, if you feel like it, you can also enable the Chat Heads feature for all of your contacts.
In addition, the floating message window has more features than you get in Facebook Messenger. Each message window has quick toggles to maximise the window, toggle transparency and enable the encrypted messaging service. You also have a choice of color themes, although Ninja SMS doesn’t allow you to create your own themes yet.
As far as settings go, Ninja SMS offers some contact-specific settings such as Chat Head shape, custom notifications and encrypted messaging. There’s also an Advanced Settings menu where you can access the usual settings related to SMS, MMS and notifications. You can also tweak global Ninja SMS settings such as chat head shapes, themes, transparency levels and fonts. There’s even an option to have Ninja SMS wake your screen up every time you receive an SMS.
To use Ninja SMS for encrypted messaging, both you and your recipient need to be using Ninja SMS, which is just a small obstacle if you’re determined to keep your text messages away from prying eyes. Also, if you’re a fan of Emoji, you’ll be glad to know that Ninja SMS comes with Emoji support built-in.
Ninja SMS doesn’t exactly play nicely with other third-party SMS apps such as Go SMS Pro, Handcent SMS or MySMS. These apps will conflict with Ninja SMS when it comes to receiving SMSes from the system. The developer recommends that you either disable these apps or make sure that you install Ninja SMS before any of these other apps.
If Chat Heads for SMS is something that you’ve been looking for, Ninja SMS is definitely the messaging app for you. Even if you’re not too keen on Chat Heads, the other features Ninja SMS offers and its clean, minimalist interface make it an SMS app that’s worth trying out, at least.
There’s also a paid version that costs $ 1.50, which gives you more customization, including a larger variety of Chat Head shapes and fonts to choose from.