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Thursday, May 26, 2011

How do I text with the stock messaging app on my Android phone?

Text messaging is so easy to do with an Android phone that it is one of the first tasks new users learn on their own.

This post covers sending and receiving texts, managing conversations, and adjusting settings in the stock messenger app. Not all features are covered because most are self-explanitory, but the basics are here.

Users can have the entire text of all incoming text messages spoken through a setting in Accessibility Preferences, an app from the Android Market. To have entire messages spoken as they come in, Talkback users must go into Accessibility Preferences/Talkback/Screen Status and check Allow Speech When Screen Is Off, and Spiel users must go into Accessibility Preferences/Spiel/Notifications and check Speak Notifications Even When Screen Is Off.

Sending a Text Message

1. Launch Messaging, the text app that is preinstalled on your phone.
a. From the stock home screen, scroll to and press the selector on All Applications or on Sliding drawer; then scroll to and press the selector on Messaging.
b. From the Eyes-Free Shell, down-stroke to Applications; type the letter M and scroll down to Messaging, or use stroke dialing.
c. From Mobile Accessibility, swipe down to Apps, double tap, swipe to Messaging, and double-tap again. The MA suite has it's own messaging app called SMS.
2. Press the selector on the New Message button, which has focus when the app opens.
3. Enter the recipient's number or name in the To edit field, which is what has focus. Two methods are available.
a. Type the phone number; then down-arrow twice to the message field.
b. Type the name of a contact; then arrow down through a list of results and press enter or the selector on the one you want. When you press the selector, the To field is filled in and focus jumps to the message field. The first result is always the numeric equivalent of the text string: 747 for Sis or 74783 for Sister.
4. Type the message. If you are using the Talkback Keyboard or Mobile Accessibility, you can review the text. If you are using Spiel, you can review the text character by character and line by line, or you can arrow up or to the right to move focus away from the edit field, then back down or left to return and hear what you've written.
5. Press the Menu button to add a subject line, attachment, or emoticon; then arrow to and press the selector on the appropriate option. Emoticons are presented in a vertical list when you press the selector on Insert Smiley. This is an optional step.
6. Send or discard the message.
a. Right-arrow once to the Send button and press the selector. The Send button is not available when the body of the message is empty.
b. Press Menu, then arrow to and press the selector on Discard to cancel the message.

Reading a Text Message

1. Launch Messaging from the Applications section of the stock home screen, the Eyes-Free Shell, or Mobile Accessibility as described earlier in this post.
2. Arrow to and press the selector on the conversation you want to read.
3. Down/up-arrow to read the messages in the thread.

Adding the Sender of a Text Message to Contacts

1. Launch Messaging from the Applications section of the stock home screen, the Eyes-Free Shell, or Mobile Accessibility as described earlier in this post.
2. Arrow to and press the selector on the conversation with the sender you want to add.
3. Down/up-arrow through the messages in the thread, stopping when focus is on the sender's name.
4. Press Menu, then arrow to and press the selector on Add to Contacts. The procedure is similar to adding a contact from the Call Log. the Contacts app opens, and you can either scroll through contacts to add information to an existing entry or press the create button at the top of the screen to start a new entry.

Replying to a Text Message

1. Launch Messaging from the Applications section of the stock home screen, the Eyes-Free Shell, or Mobile Accessibility as described earlier in this post.
2. Arrow to the conversation you want to reply to.
3. Start the reply in one of two ways:
a. Press Menu on the closed conversation; then arrow to and press the selector on Reply. The Reply option usually has focus when Menu is pressed.
b. Press the selector to open the conversation. Down/up-arrow through the messages in the thread as if to read them. Move focus to the Reply edit field, which is at the bottom.
4. Type the message. You can review what you're writing by using your screen reader's review features or by arrowing up or to the right to move focus away from the edit field, then back down or left to return and hear what you've written.
5. Press the Menu button to add a subject line, attachment, or emoticon; then arrow to and press the selector on the appropriate option. Emoticons are presented in a vertical list when you press the selector on Insert Smiley. This is an optional step.
6. Send or discard the message.
a. Right-arrow once to the Send button and press the selector. The Send button is not available when the body of the message is empty.
b. Press Menu, then arrow to and press the selector on Discard to cancel the message.

Deleting Individual Messages, Threads, and All Threads

Some of these methods work better than others in different versions of Android.

1. Launch Messaging from the Applications section of the stock home screen, the Eyes-Free Shell, or Mobile Accessibility as described earlier in this post.
2. To delete a message within a thread, navigate to the conversation, press the selector to open it, and arrow to the specific message to be deleted. Then long-press the selector, navigate to Delete Message, and short-press the selector.
3. To delete a thread, navigate to and press the selector on the conversation you want to delete, and do one of the following:
a. Long-press the selector on the closed conversation. Navigate to Delete Thread, and short-press the selector.
b. Open the conversation by pressing the selector. Press Menu; then arrow to and press the selector on Delete Thread.
c. Open the conversation by pressing the selector. Move focus to anywhere in the conversation except the Reply edit field. Long-press the selector; then arrow to and press the selector on Delete Thread.
4. To delete all threads, Navigate to any conversation, but do not open it with the selector. Instead, press Menu and scroll to and press the selector on Delete Threads.

In all cases, a confirmation screen asks users if they're sure they want to delete. Focus is on the on-screen delete button. To delete, users simply press enter or the selector. To cancel, they press the back button or arrow to and press the selector on the on-screen cancel button.

Changing Settings

The Settings covered in this final section of the post are the ones most users are likely to ask about, the ones dealing with notifications and ringtones. Other settings enable users to determine how many messages with and without media should be in a conversation, whether messages are deleted automatically, which messages should have read receipts, what the messaging app should do when roaming, and more, but these are all self-explanitory checkboxes, so they are not covered here.

1. To go to Settings in the stock messaging app, launch Messaging. Press Menu while on the main screen, where all the conversations are listed. Then navigate to and press the selector on Settings.
2. To reach the three items discussed in this post, either scroll to the bottom of the list of settings or press alt+down-arrow to jump to the end of the list. The items are Notifications, Select Ringtones, and Vibrate Also.
a. Notifications – Checking this item sends a message to the status bar to let you know that a new text has arrived. This is checked by default as this is the behavior most users want. If, however, you are using a different messaging app (like Go SMS by Go Dev Team) because of an accessibility issue with your Sense UI or Touchwiz 2.2 phone, unchecking this item stops the phone from sending duplicate notifications, one from each messaging app.
b. Select Ringtones – this dropdown list lets you assign a distinctive ringtone to incoming text messages. To change the messaging ringtone, press the selector on this item, scroll to and press the selector on the desired ringtone, then scroll to the OK button at the bottom of the list, pressing the selector. Remember that, on most phones, you can jump to the last ringtone with alt+down-arrow and press down-arrow once more to reach OK.
c. Vibrate Also – Checking this item causes the phone to vibrate when it notifies you of a new text message. Some users have definite preferences about vibrational feedback.

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