iMessage has been always one of iPhone’s most prominent cornerstones. There are users who still buy an iOS device merely to benefit that service and stay connected with their contacts through iMessage or FaceTime. Apple realized this trend early and of course, brought in a slew of supplementing features that made the experience substantially better by creating a native ecosystem of all the essential services of a phone – calls, and messages.
On the other hand, Google, despite Android’s exponential growth over the years, could never figure this out. Therefore, some users made peace with WhatsApp, some with Facebook Messenger. You get the idea. Google did have its own platform though – Hangouts – but the mobile app’s glaring deficiencies never allowed it to soar. The messaging industry, however, boomed and almost every company wanted a share of it. “Messaging is the future”, “Messaging is the next big interface” were some of the headlines making rounds and they were true in a lot of ways.
Google Missed the Messaging Revolution Memo
People spent the majority of their smartphone time on messaging apps and obviously, that got advertisers’ attention. Google did realize this at some point and came up with two entirely new applications – Allo and Duo, both of which came with an impeccable set of skills including the company’s AI prowess and the latter’s ability to function seamlessly on meager networks. Unfortunately, the world had moved on and hardly anyone cared about those two. RCS (Rich Communication Service) does look promising but it would take years for it to become a standard across the globe. Android’s conundrum, therefore, couldn’t be solved. It still lacks a true iMessage competitor.
The Last Glimmer of Hope
Thankfully, there’s a tiny ray of hope left – Truecaller. Yes, the caller ID app that has lived on your phone consistently for the past couple of years. I know, I know, Truecaller isn’t a messaging app at all. Yet. But it can be and a pretty good one actually, something that can finally stymie WhatsApp and its ever-growing number of users (>1B). The Sweden-based startup has been bringing in a ton of refreshing changes to its aged platform, especially with the recent Truecaller 8 update.
There are a bunch of reasons why Truecaller can succeed as a messaging app and solve one of Android’s biggest problems. For starters, it is already on your phone and it’s something you probably use every day as well. That’s extremely important if you’re planning to enter this market as we’ve seen in the past where new ones have tried and failed regardless of whatever advanced technology they pack. Therefore, if they do add the feature, you won’t have to worry about your friends registering as well because they are already part of Truecaller’s database. Sending a message to anyone won’t return with a message saying “invite them to join” which is the most prominent rationale behind any messaging app’s success.
Second, Truecaller is a stupendous communication platform and can handle SMS and calls without any hassles. Its indomitable spam filters are just icing on the cake. In addition to that, it has partnered with a range of services for embedding increasingly crucial messaging features such as peer-to-peer payments and video calling through Google Duo. Also, if it does happen, Truecaller is cross-platform compatible. Hence, you won’t have to worry about losing your chats when switching to a different operating system.
More importantly, Truecaller has already added a few social features that will make this transition even more effortless for existing users. You can create personal profiles on it, add social network links, check whether the recipient Truecaller user is online or not, and lastly, flash messaging. That last one needs an explanation if you never got past Truecaller’s unknown caller alerts. Flash messaging on Truecaller’s app allows you to send quick bits of text, emojis and location info. This will only work if the user has the latest version and you can know that if the contact’s entry has a little thunderbolt icon beside it. Additionally, it’s the only app that has the skill set to be an iMessage counterpart Android never had.
Why Truecaller Might be Holding Off
Truecaller, in a way, has quietly boarded on the internet messaging bandwagon. However, the company knows it cannot confuse or disappoint its existing loyal users if the announcement goes south or the application becomes inconveniently too cluttered. Launching a dedicated app isn’t an option either, it needs the numbers for a positive head start. Although I can see them taking the Truemessenger approach which is – start by launching a separate app and after a couple of months, integrate it with the main app.
Additionally, Truecaller will need to address the privacy concerns that surround its current caller ID platform. They are right now collecting phone numbers, however, that won’t be acceptable in the case of an instant messaging app. In the past year, messaging apps like WhatsApp had a rather chaotic period as questions regarding their integrity continue to elevate. Truecaller already has a relatively patchy reputation and will have to make sure users feel comfortable using it before diving in.
Truecaller may or may not ever introduce a comprehensive messaging feature on its app but if it does, Android’s messaging mess will finally take a significant step forward. It has already replaced two app icons on my phone’s home screen with one and I can comfortably see that happening with three as well. Let’s just hope someone from Truecaller reads this and garners enough motivation to at least give the idea a shot.