One of the most commonly-requested features we’ve seen from serious Android fans is some kind of unified messaging app. A service that brings together all the ways to talk to other people. An app that acts as a one-stop-shop for SMS, MMS, Google Voice, and Google Talk. Considering how flexible Android is, we’re mystified that it doesn’t already exist.
We spoke to developer ShortFuse. The creator of SuperOneClick wants to make “the best, most popular short messaging app available.”
His approach to development is unique. ShortFuse is relying on the input of the subreddit r/Android for features, bug testing, and feedback. It’s a highly community-driven approach to design. “I do my part as the person on top, but the direction is decided by the masses… I didn’t even come up with the idea of the app, the public did.”
The premise is simple. Just tap a contact and you can send them a message through different services. If it works as well as we hope and integrates with more services, this app could be a godsend.
How Things Stand
Right now, though, Fusion Messenger is still in beta. Development has a long way to go before the app is ready for mass consumption.
He promises that within “a month or two” the first stage of development will be finished. “From there, I’m going to start branching out to secondary features and really start distancing myself from the competition.”
The app supports SMS and Google Voice messages at the moment. ShortFuse aims to add more services like Facebook chat, MMS, Reddit, Steam, and Google Talk. On the chopping block? Skype.
“I’m debating as to whether or not I want to implement it,” ShortFuse said. “I don’t believe in ‘can’t’ or ‘impossible’ in terms of programming, but I will recognize that some things won’t be worth the effort.”
“Skype would have to be completely reversed engineered… It’s a mess of proprietary protocols. Of course, Skype might change and decide to openly support developers, but until then, it doesn’t look worth the trouble.”
So far, Fusion Messenger is an impressive app. It has a minimalistic, clean Holo-themed design. There are multiple themes. If you feel the ads are too intrusive, you can deactivate them. That’s some user-friendly design.
The Road Ahead
Fusion Messenger is an ambitious product, but ShortFuse is a talented developer with a lot of support behind him. He gives a lot of credit to the loyal community at r/Android.
“As odd as it sounds, I don’t consider my own opinions as the most valid. I really leave much to the public. It’s almost sounds political, but I try to take as much input as possible and figure out the best way to implement said requests.”
ShortFuse will support the app in the future. “Technology constantly evolves and I plan on Fusion evolving with it. The UI will need to be refreshed every so often to stay modern.”
As for monetization, the developer plans to reward paying customers without shortchanging free users. In his words:
“I don’t want to deny users certain experiences because they don’t have the money for it. I plan on having an In-App Billing component that allows you pay/donate any amount. After a certain threshold you can be rewarded with somethings.”
“I haven’t decided exactly how to reward users. I’ve gone around thinking about giving out Nexus devices to people or giving them Google Play credit in a sweepstakes type fashion. The only thing I’ve cemented is that for a certain price (probably $1 or $5) you’ll have access to beta or nightly releases.”
“The idea is free would be major updates only while paid would have in development versions. It will be optional and it won’t tarnish the reputation of the free, stable versions.”
And what about those persistent rumors that Google might release their own first-party unified messaging client?
“I’m not worried… Google won’t build the customization features I will. Ideally, people will say that Fusion ‘is just like Google <insert name here>, only better.’”
Your move, Google.
Download, Donate and Keep Up With Updates
If you’re interested in trying Fusion Messenger, the public beta is available for download at the Play Store link below. Be sure to also check out r/fusionIM, a subreddit hosted by ShortFuse. He also posts development notes to his website.
If you’re interested in supporting Fusion Messenger, you can buy the paid version (to be released after beta) or donate.