Text messaging apps for Android are ten a penny these days, and most of them do exactly the same thing. Beam Messenger offers you a more interesting way to text chat, though. Instead of waiting for the other person's response you can see what they are typing in real time.
Beam me up
Beam Messenger should be admired for trying something different, and it does make for an interesting - even eye-opening - way to chat via text message. The developer claims in the app's Google Play blurb, that Beam Messenger is "the closest thing you will get to having a verbal conversation in a messaging app," and it certainly feels like a more intimate chat experience once you start using it.
Beam Messenger works in much the same way as other chat apps in that both participants in a chat must have the app installed to start talking. You also need to sign up for a free account with Beam Messenger before you can use it.
As soon as you start chatting on Beam Messenger everything you type (or speak if you use voice input) will be 'broadcast' to the other person. And vice versa. You can delete as you type without sending the message, so the person will see it but it won't be recorded. This makes it great for telling secrets!
Besides being good for just fooling around with buddies like you might do on Snapchat, Beam Messenger takes some of the painful wait times out of text messaging. If you're speaking with someone who is a slow typist for example, this makes it quicker to figure out what they are getting at and butt in without having to wait ages for their full response.
Beam Messenger is great at what it does but it's not necessarily a replacement for your regular messaging apps. It lacks quite a few features such as group chat, location sharing, video sharing, and emoticons.
Getting around the app
The user interface in Beam Messenger isn't the most attractive around. Its design feels a little old fashioned, in a world where Google is trying to encourage developers to adopt a more universal interface style. There are three tabs at the top with vague icons that represent your contacts list, open chats and settings/about. You'll find two icons at the bottom: one for deleting chats and another for creating new chats.
Getting around Beam Messenger was a bit disorientating at first, and I found the process of adding a contact particularly unclear. A better tutorial section would really help to prevent any confusion. There is a 'Beam Bot', which is supposed to give you an introduction to the app via a simulated text conversation. It's quite painstaking to wait for the information to be tapped out though, and if you leave the tutorial half way through, you'll need to go right back to the start next time. It's a nice idea, but not a practical way to learn how to use Beam Messenger.
These flaws aside, the chat window in Beam Messenger is clear and comfortable to use. What's more, you can customize the background image to personalize the screen.
An interesting concept
Beam Messenger offers a novel and fun way to send messages to pals on your phone. The app is still in beta, hence it feels a bit rough around the edges, but it certainly shows promise.