Why text messaging is still useful

Why text messaging is still useful

If the phrase ‘text messaging’ makes you think of millennial smartphones like the one in the photo accompanying this article, you’re probably not alone.

In recent years, our love of sending written messages instead of making phone calls has increased dramatically.

However, instead of smartphone text messaging, we’ve increasingly gravitated towards encrypted communications platforms such as Viber and Telegram.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp is the market leader, with its blend of emoji, ubiquity and simplicity. Even a smartphone newcomer can get to grips with WhatsApp in minutes.

Offering group chat functionality and message/user status notifications, these platforms undoubtedly represent a technical advance over smartphone text messaging.

Yet as we approach the third decade of the 21st century, the Short Message Service developed in the 1980s remains useful in many ways…

2FA confirmations. As banks and financial institutions move towards improved platform security, one-time passcodes are becoming increasingly common.

Given the issues posed by email spam filters, smartphone text messaging is the most rapid and dependable way to provide customers with login credentials which confirm their identity.

Automated notifications. Imagine trying to design a database capable of sending out reminders or confirmations to WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, WeChat, Skype…

Different people may have one, several or none of these platforms. Yet everyone with a phone number starting 07 can receive text message notifications, without needing an app.

Communicating during system outages. During the last year, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger experienced several high-profile outages, for varying reasons.

The humble text message may seem passé, but it remains dependable for keeping in touch. Today’s SMS services support emoji inputs and relatively lengthy messages, too.

Mobile data isn’t required. Platforms like Telegram are cloud-hosted, meaning a device needs a 4G, 5G or WiFi connection to send or receive messages.

An SMS can be sent (and more importantly received) whenever there’s any form of network signal. This makes them more suitable for people in remote corners of the country.

Professionalism. From their use of emoji to their colourful backgrounds, there’s something juvenile about many encrypted communications platforms.

A text message is neutral enough to come from a friend, a funeral parlour or a former employer. It seems formal without being stilted, and concise without being impolite.

Permanence. If your device is reset or replaced, historic messages on platforms like WhatsApp will be lost forever.

By ensuring they get saved onto a SIM card, significant or sentimental text messages may be stored permanently, regardless of handset repairs or replacement.

Greater privacy. Encrypted services may be free to use, but their founders are quietly tracking user activity – and targeted advertising is rumoured to be on the way.

Text messages are completely discreet. And in an age of concerns about cyber stalking, it’s reassuring that people can’t check when you last looked at your messages or went online.

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