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Download: HoverChat offers SMS multitasking with Facebook-like 'HoverHeads'

Matt Brian, @m4tt

Since Google decided to scrap the SMS app in Android 4.4, developers have scrambled to fill the gap. Apps including Textra, HelloSMS and EvolveSMS have helped raise the bar for SMS apps on the platform, along with HoverChat, an app you might previously have known as Ninja SMS. Like its rivals, HoverChat utilises the traditional list-based inbox, but it's how the app handles incoming messages and notifications that sets it apart from the rest of the competition.

Despite its goofy name, Facebook's Chat Head feature has proved to be somewhat of a revelation. Assigning a floating chat bubble (normally with someone's face inside it) to a contact, users can respond quickly to friends no matter what app they are using at the time. HoverChat takes the same approach with its "HoverHeads", but lets you tailor them to fit your needs. In that respect, you can choose which of your friends will get their own chat bubble when they text, quickly pop-out a chat windows from your inbox, make them semi-transparent (perfect for when you're reading) and even send encrypted messages. Unfortunately, encrypted messaging is limited to messages sent between HoverChat users, meaning the majority of your outgoing texts will not take advantage of the app's additional privacy measures.

The app's customisation features don't end there either. HoverChat also includes a fully-featured store that serves themes, fonts and custom HoverHeads, with both free and premium options available. Although you'll probably want to see your significant other's face inside heart or star shape (softie), premium HoverHeads are often animated. Got a nerdy mate? There's an "Geek" GIF avatar that'll do the job. Despite the rise of messaging apps like Whatsapp and Snapchat, SMS still serves a purpose, at least for now. If you find yourself in the midst of a text message onslaught, HoverChat and its HoverHeads will have you multi-tasking like a maestro.

The app is available now for free on Google Play, while the paid version (£2.39) will unlock all of the in-app purchases on the store.

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