Posts tagged Messaging

Twitter Is Making Direct Messaging More Private And User Friendly by @mattsouthern

Twitter announced on Friday that changes are coming to their direct messages are sent and stored across the network. Twitter’s support account made the announcement via a Tweet that emphasized the upgrade would make deleting DMs more consistent: Over the next few weeks, we’re rolling out an update that makes deleting DMs more consistent across web and mobile. — Twitter Support (@Support) July 18, 2014 This may not sound like a major updates, but it actually solves a huge problem with Twitter’s mobile app. Previously, when users deleted a direct message on the iOS or Android app, the messages would […]

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Friday Fun: Create Your Own Obnoxiously Simple Messaging App Just Like Yo

You’ve heard about Yo, the bare-minimum messaging app that does nothing but send your friends a “Yo” message with just one tap. In its wake have come OyYo, Hodor, and others. 

Bare-bones messaging is all the rage, because, let’s face it, actually composing a message made up of original words you think up in your head is a lot of work.

The sheer fatuousness of these apps has riled people up. While others pondered why anyone would sully the world by creating Yo and its ilk, we had a different question: How hard is it to code a simple messaging app that just sends a predetermined phrase?

There was only one way to find out.

We had to build our own annoying messaging app.

Meet One Click Message, a Yo-like app built with the help of Matt Makai, a developer evangelist at Twilio.

 I used text messaging rather than push notifications because text is a universal, sure-fire way to annoy your friends without requiring them—as Yo does—to download an app.

I wrote the app in Python, an English-like programming language ideal for beginner developers who want to make something silly while working with Python. It took all of 29 lines of code. 

Here’s a tutorial to help you follow along with the process, so you can see how easy it is for anyone to build a simple Yo clone.

One Click Message is a Web app, not a phone app, but it still texts anyone you want. When you build it, you select a word or phrase that you’d like to send in one click. Mine rickrolls people with Rick Astley lyrics.

And when your friends text you back, you can display all their exasperated replies like trophies right there on your Web app. (Note to self: I may need to get a lawyer soon. Or new friends.)

There’s very minimal coding required to get this off the ground. While I’ll walk you through how I wrote the app, you don’t have to redo the raw coding. Instead, you can copy my work—feel free!—by cloning my GitHub repository, where I stored the source code for the very small, simple program.

Want your own? Here’s how to do it in just ten steps.

1) Sign Up For Twilio

Twilio is a company that makes developer-friendly set of tools for creating text and voice applications. Twilio lets you call and text your own phone number for free and charges three fourths of a penny for calls and text messages to any other phone.

When you sign up, Twilio will give you a phone number (this is what our app will use to text your friends) and API credentials (this is what will allow our app to access our account). I’ve blurred mine out because you should never share these with anybody!

2) Upgrade Your Twilio Account

In my previous tutorial, My Fish Just Sent Me A Text Message, we used Twilio for free, because I was just sending texts to myself. But for a messaging app, we’re going to want to be able to text other people too, so we’re going to have to upgrade our Twilio account by paying for it.

Twilio uses a credit card on file to bill you, but if you add $5 to your account, that’s enough to send and receive about 666 texts on your app—plenty for an experiment like this.

Why pay for texts? Twilio is one of the easiest ways I’ve found to integrate messaging into your development projects, and carriers charge for every text message anyway. It’s hard to find a similar service that’s both free and flexible.

I promise this is the first and last time you’ll have to fork over money for this tutorial. Let’s move on to another tiered free-to-pay tool, of which we’ll be using just the free part…

3) Sign Up For

There are a lot of options for spaces where you can build and host your own online app. When I built a random non-sequitur Twitter bot, I used Heroku. This time I’m using one of Heroku’s competitors, They’re both development environments and online hosts for apps. This means you don’t have to think about setting up your own server—you can just run your code and go.

Why choose one Web-based app builder over another? In this case, I chose Nitrous because it launched with Twilio functionality already built in. Using a different service might mean having to write more code, and I wanted to do the least amount of work possible here.

Sign up with an email and wait for to email you your confirmation.

4) Create A New “Box” For Your Code

On, you build and host apps by putting them in different repositories, or as Nitrous calls them, boxes. A free account earns you one box. That’s plenty.

Once you’re signed up with Nitrous, go to your dashboard and click the orange button that says “New Box.” Ours is a Python app, so select “Python/Django.”

Don’t worry about the unusual name will assign you. It does so to make sure every box has a unique name. Because it’s so easy to create new boxes, Nitrous has to make sure it has lots of names available and they don’t repeat.

Finally, at the bottom where it says, “Download a GitHub repo,” you’ll want to select my One Click Message repository by typing in

Take a moment here, if you like, to look at my code. I use Flask, a microframework for Python, which adds new usability to Python in a number of different ways. For the purposes of this project, we’re focusing on Flask’s ability to simplify integrating Web-based forms with the Python language. In this case, it’s a form that collects your friend’s phone number and passes it on to Twilio, which in turn sends out your designated annoyance text.

Why use a microframework instead of just writing it all myself in Python? Because it’s another opportunity to write less code than we have to. Instead of writing lines of code to bridge the gap between Web forms and Python functions, we just call Flask in to do our dirty work.

When you’re done, it should look like this:

5) Set up the Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

When your box is created, there will be a new orange button below it that says IDE. An IDE, or integrated development environment, is just a place where you can work on code. Click it. You’re now in the part of Nitrous that lets you examine and edit your app’s code.

There are a couple of panels here. To the left is the file hierarchy. If you click on “Workspace,” you’ll see the GitHub repository “one-click-message” populated beneath it. To the right is the chat. I usually just close that, because I’m working on this myself rather than with coding partners. 

In the center is where you edit files. And the entire bottom half of the screen is the console, where you test and deploy programs.

Let’s go down to that bottom screen now. First, we need to install the Twilio API like this:

pip install twilio

This is one of the benefits of using Nitrous. Because we selected its Python option, pip, a program which helps install new Python code, is already installed.

Next, we’re going to install Flask, the framework that adds additional functionality to Python programs. Remember how our finished app allows you to input a phone number? While Twilio is adding messaging functionality, Flask makes it possible to build responsive Python forms.

pip install flask

Now you’ve got all the tools you need in your IDE to get this project going.

6) Add Your Twilio Identication to

If you look inside the one-click-message folder, you’ll see that there are six files in it, not counting images. Two of these, form.html and messages.html inside the Templates folder, make up the visual Web pages that you see when you interact with the app. The cascading style sheet, form.css, is what makes them look pretty.

But the glue holding the entire project together is a Python script named This is the only part of the project you actually have to alter in order to get it to function.

Inside, I’ve inserted comments about what certain parts of the program do. The part you need to pay attention to right now is:

client = TwilioRestClient ('ABC', '0123') 

twilio_number = "+1234567890" 

Fill in your Twilio credentials on the first line, and your Twilio phone number on the second. With these lines, we’re telling the program how to talk to Twilio’s application programming interface, and whose account to use.

7) The Fun Part: Add Your Message

Maybe it’s a stupid joke. Maybe it’s a really long string of words you text to people frequently and are tired of writing out. Maybe it’s a really long stupid joke. Either way, you’re going to want to put it in on this line in

client.messages.create(to=formatted_number, from_ = twilio_number, body = "Message of your choice.") 

As you can see, it’s easy enough to change the message by going back into and adjusting this line. So just put something fun for now.

Note to out-of-United-States tutorial readers: This is also where you would want to customize the program with your country code.

formatted_number = "+1" + number

I’ve told the program to add “+1” to any number inputted in the app because I’m in the US and so are the people I plan to text. But it may be different for you.

Finally, don’t forget to save the newly edited!

8) Run Python

OK, we’re getting close to finishing up! Go back to the console at the bottom and navigate to the folder where lives like this:

cd workspace

cd one-click-message

cd is a command that stands for “change directory.” We’re changing from our main directory to the one where is so we can run

Here’s how you actual run it:


If you are in the right directory, the IDE should spit back something like this:

 * Running on                                                                                                  

 * Restarting with reloader  

9) Preview Your App

With Python still running, go to the navigation bar at the top of the IDE and select Preview: Port 3000. We want the public port 3000, not the SSL (secure socket layer) option.

Your app should open up in another window, like this!

10) Get Texting!

Try out your new app by texting your own phone number. Don’t forget, you need to put it in like this: 1234567890, not like this: (123) 456 – 7890 for it to work. (It wouldn’t be hard to add a few more lines that match patterns by using a library like python-phonenumbers, but for simplicity, I skipped that.)

After you hit send, try sending a reply text, and refresh the page. This will probably be the least-irritated response you’ll get!

How the ReadWrite team replied to my app. 

Text your friends, or share the app’s address with them and trick them into texting themselves.

Have fun! And if you get somebody to invest a million bucks in your obnoxious one-click messaging app, that’s just icing on the cake.

Lead photo by Jhaymesisviphotography

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Why Twitter Needs Its Own Messaging App

Twitter is the social application I use the most. I check it as soon as I wake up in the morning, whenever I have a free moment while riding the bus or in line at a coffee shop, and when news breaks. I rely on it heavily for news and information, as well as predictable snark from fellow journalists.

When I spend time on Twitter, I’m either posting or reading public updates. Very rarely do I use it to send direct messages, as Twitter calls its one-to-one private messages, mostly because it’s a feature buried within an app that’s geared for news consumption, not private communication.

If Twitter rebooted its direct-messaging system and turned it into a standalone app, like Facebook has done with Facebook Messenger, I would gladly use it as a mobile messenger. Right now, most conversations I have with people via direct message always end with, “Here, text me, that will just be easier.”

Twitter has made a handful of changes in recent months to improve direct messages, including adding the ability to send photos in messages. After a period when the messaging feature was all but hidden, the company has put an increased emphasis on private messaging, and there were rumors last year that the company is working on a private messaging client to compete with apps like WhatsApp. So far, though, nothing has materialized.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo recently dropped hints about improved messaging features in the company’s most recent quarterly earnings call, suggesting that the company was exploring ways to share updates privately with a small group of people. That would be great, too—if the company first took care of the basic problems with its existing messaging tools.

Messaging Is Overtaking Social

Gone are the days when oversharing with hundreds of friends was the most popular way to spend time online. As people become more concerned about privacy—and as messaging startups continue to pop up with unique features designed for chatting—more people are choosing to share information privately.

The “ephemeral” messaging startup Snapchat exploded into popularity among teens with its disappearing photos. Other social networks, most notably Facebook, struggled to catch up. Facebook’s Snapchat clone, Poke, failed miserably, and to add insult to injury, Snapchat reportedly rebuffed Facebook’s $3 billion acquisition offer.

As we’ve since learned, Snapchat messages don’t actually disappear—but the idea of disappearing messages which can’t be held up to public scrutiny has taken hold. And that’s a problem for Twitter, whose dominant mode of sharing is public.

Nothing encapsulates the rising trend in mobile messaging quite like Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp—the world’s most popular messaging application—for $19 billion. Although Facebook has its own mobile messenger which it’s been focused on growing, buying WhatsApp was a testament to people’s switch from social networks to messaging apps.

It’s time for Twitter to get on board.

A Flawed Messaging System

Twitter’s direct messages are frustrating. You can’t send links to the majority of websites. The character limit is set at 140—even shorter than a traditional text message. And if you send more than 250 messages a day, you can end up in Twitter jail. All of these limitations are arbitrary results of Twitter’s architecture, not elegant product decisions based on user needs.

Last fall, Twitter made it impossible to send links in direct messages. The company claimed it was a technical issue with URLs sent in direct messages at the time. But if it’s a glitch, it’s still not fixed: Users still can’t send links via DM. There are a few sites that are approved for inclusion, like and, but others, like personal websites and even major news sites, don’t work. 

Twitter’s restriction of inboxes was likely an attempt to keep spammy messages to a minimum. While it did eliminate unwanted messages—I haven’t received a spammy DM since Twitter blocked links—I’ve been increasingly frustrated every time I try to share a link with a friend. 

Users can send messages from both Twitter’s mobile app and, but often notifications are out of date between versions. On the Web, I receive messages well after I’ve already read them on mobile, and frequently there is a notification alert above the mail icon on my Twitter homepage alerting me to a message I’ve already read. 

Fail Me Once, Shame On You

Then there are those legendary “DM fails.”

One benefit of Twitter creating a messenger application might be to put an end, once and for all, to Twitter scandals where the sender claims they goofed and tried to send a direct message—an idea now so common it inspired a plot point in Jon Favreau’s new movie Chef.

The notion of a direct-message mistake, or “DM fail,” is becoming dated. DM fails happened more frequently when people used Twitter via text message or third-party clients and replied to someone with an “@” instead of a “D” in front of their username—remember Rep. Anthony Weiner’s epic mishap

Now that people regularly use the Twitter app or Twitter on the Web, these DM fails are pretty hard to do, but people are still using the excuse when caught writing inappropriate tweets. 

An overhauled messaging system would not only improve the Twitter experience, but it would also be a way to attract more users, and keep them on the service. Twitter has struggled to evangelize its services to the masses, and is taking steps to appeal to a larger audience by simplifying its services. A standalone messaging app could do just that.

And separating the idea of public and private communications would go far to simplify what Twitter means. Foursquare just did something similar in unbundling its location-broadcasting and city-guide features into separate apps.

In the meantime, I’ll just have to keep giving out my phone number to Twitter friends. Or I’ll tell them to message me on Facebook. 

Image by threesisters

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Facebook Pushes Privacy—Well, Private Messaging, At Least

Facebook’s mobile ambitions clearly aren’t suffering. Over one billion people use Facebook on their mobile devices each month, the social network announced Wednesday, and mobile ads account for almost 60 percent of Facebook’s advertising revenue.

But some of the company’s biggest growth isn’t on Facebook proper, but in private messaging.

More than 200 million people use Facebook Messenger each month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during Wednesday’s first quarter earnings call. This is the first time the social network has released numbers describing just how popular the messaging application is.

Just a day earlier, WhatsApp—the hugely popular messaging app that Facebook acquired earlier this year—announced it hit the 500 million user mark, putting its well on its way to becoming the next billion-user app. 

What isn’t clear, though, is how many of those users overlap, or how many of them are messaging-only consumers. 

Zuckerberg added that with Messenger and WhatsApp, the company is moving quickly toward more private messaging, a significant shift from the traditional use for Facebook—connecting with as many “friends” as you possibly can to amass a list of hundreds of acquaintances.

It’s likely the number of Messenger users will continue to climb. The company recently said it’s ripping messaging features out of the Facebook application and forcing all users to download Messenger in order to connect privately. 

Image via Facebook 

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Facebook To Remove Messaging Capabilities From Its Main Apps, Forcing Users To Download Messenger

If you have grown accustomed to using the instant messaging features of Facebook’s mobile app, you will soon […]

Author information

Matt Southern

Matt Southern is a marketing, communications and public relations professional. He provides strategic digital marketing services at an agency called Bureau in Ontario, Canada. He has a bachelors degree in communication and an unparalleled passion for helping businesses get their message out.

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The 10 Most Popular Mobile Messaging Apps In The World

With Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp last month, mobile messaging apps have taken center stage thanks to the sheer weight of their ever-expanding user bases. Such apps are colossal players in the mobile game, originating everywhere from Silicon Valley in California to Gurgaon, India.

Here are 10 international messaging apps whose worldwide influence is racking up millions of users from across the globe.

WhatsApp : United States 

With 450 million monthly users, it’s clear why this US-based messaging giant has been the talk of the town. Now under Facebook’s ownership, WhatsApp is still available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Symbian.

Viber : Cyprus 

Over 300 million registered members use this Cyprus-based app. In February of 2014, Viber was bought by Japan-based e-commerce and Internet service company Rakuten for $900 million.

WeChat : China 

WeChat is owned by China’s Tencent, one of China’s largest Internet service providers, and has amassed a following of 450 million monthly users since its founding in 2010.

Line : Japan 

With their array of teen-friendly cartoon stickers, Japan’s Naver-owned Line app boasts over 350 million registered users.

KakaoTalk : South Korea 

South Korea’s KakaoTalk has over 100 million registered users. This messaging app partnered with Evernote in 2013, in an effort to integrate the U.S. service onto the KakaoTalk mobile app.

Kik : Canada 

University of Waterloo students founded Kik in 2009, which has gained a following of over 130 million registered users. Operating out of Ontario, Canada, this app boasts 200,000 new members per day.

Tango : United States 

Silicon Valley-based messaging app Tango is being utilized in over 224 countries, and according to a Tango representative, is reaching 190 million registered users and growing.

Nimbuzz : India 

150 million registered users utilize Nimbuzz, whose headquarters are located in Gurgaon, India. Founded in 2006, this app focuses on messaging, Voice over Internet Protocol, and social networking.

hike : India 

Based out of India, it’s no wonder 60% of hike’s 15 million registered users come from the home country. The other 40% of users originate from Europe and the Middle East, proving a very diverse international appeal.

MessageMe : United States 

Born out of San Francisco, this app was founded in 2012 and works to increase engagement by upping the communication experience through stickers, music, and photos. MessageMe has 5 million registered users and growing.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock 

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3 Simple Messaging Changes That Can Mean Big PPC Bucks

There are many ways in which PPC accounts can go astray. For example, wrong keywords, incorrect bidding, bad landing pages, etc… I think you get the picture. An often overlooked pitfall relates to basic marketing strategy/messaging. If basic marketing principles are overlooked, PPC goodness…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

View full post on Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Since Facebook Owns WhatsApp, Here Are 5 Alternative Messaging Services

Facebook stunned the tech world last week when it scooped up the messaging application WhatsApp for $19 billion.

The deal was largely heralded as a win for both sides: Facebook gained a much-needed service it hasn’t yet delivered on, and the small startup cashed in big time. But the downside of the acquisition fell heavily on the shoulders of users—those 450 million people whose private data is now in the hands of Facebook.

If you’re a WhatsApp user who wants to break up with Facebook, or someone looking for a great new messaging application, we’ve put together a list of mobile messaging apps you should try.


Almost five million people signed up for Telegram after Facebook bought WhatsApp. As a messaging service, it is sleek and easy to use. 

Telegram, which is built by a Berlin-based nonprofit, is cloud-based and heavily encrypted so users can use several devices to access their messages and documents including both mobile and desktop. The company also claims Telegram is a free service that will remain so in the future, meaning no advertisements or subscription fees will ever be levied on customers.

Telegram is available on iOS and Android. Developers can access and implement the app’s API through Telegram’s open source code.


Snapchat’s sophisticated competitor Wickr brings government-strength security and encryption to your messages. Wickr lets you send self-destructing messages, documents, photos, videos and voice calls that disappear after a select amount of time.

Wickr is entirely anonymous, as the application doesn’t ask for any of your personal information. Wickr is also exceeds top secret and HIPAA compliance, so people in medical, law enforcement, and journalism fields can feel confident using Wickr for secure messaging knowing it can’t be traced or reproduced. 

Wickr is available on iOS and Android.


Line is one of the most popular messaging services on the market for free voice and video calling. 

The app is massively popular internationally, especially in Asia, and it finally entered the U.S. market earlier this year. Line is more than just a simple messaging application—it has branched out to offer in-app games and a variety of standalone apps like Line Camera and Line Tools. While the app is free, additional services like stickers and games provide revenue for the company. In the first quarter of 2013, Line made $17 million off sticker sales alone

Line is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry


Kik is the world’s first messaging application with a built-in browser. The application boasts over 100 million users, a majority coming from North America and Western Europe.

Kik has over 30 HTML5 experiences built into the application for sharing pictures, videos and gaming, according to the company, and recently launched the in-app browser. Kik has also created open source tools to help developers build and optimize their websites for mobile. 

Kik is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry.


Tango, like Line, offers an all-inclusive social app with games, music, video, and voice and text messaging. The San Francisco-based company says the app has 150 million users. 

Because of the additional features that extend beyond voice calling and messaging, users of more traditional messaging services like WhatsApp may find the interface a bit confusing, but users can personalize their profiles to find and make friends or discover people you may know nearby. 

Tango is available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Breaking Up Is Hard

It’s inconvenient to switch to an entirely new messaging service, especially if all your friends are dedicated to one app. But you shouldn’t feel forced to turn over your data to Facebook either. All these applications provide messaging services that rival WhatsApp, without the commitment to Facebook services, meaning you’re not turning over your mobile phone book and payment information to the social network in exchange for an efficient messaging service. 

Lead image by Susan NYC via Flickr. All other images via app stores. 

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