One of the nice things about Android is how easy it is to customise the phone to get the experience you want out of it. Don't like how the manufacturer has set up the home screen? There are plenty of alternatives you could try. You can change the lock screen, pick another dialler, or even choose a new SMS manager. There are a lot of alternatives available, with features like could backups, extreme customisation, smart reminders, and more. We tried out Microsoft Garage's latest India-only Android app SMS Organizer to see how it measures up.
It falls into a pattern with some other Android apps from Microsoft that we've been testing of late. The app is nicely designed, in a way that doesn't stand out but is intuitive and inoffensive, and it packs in just enough features to make us keep using it. It's not a must-have, but it definitely falls into the category of nice-to-have apps.
Microsoft's SMS Organizer lives up to its name, simply sorting your messages into a number of categories. Your inbox is divided into personal, transactional, promotional, archived, and blocked, which you can access with a tap. A little dot on the top of each category shows you when there's something new. There's a dark theme and you can set up a signature, and you have the option to back up your messages to a Google Drive account. This is turned off by default, and you have to manually select the account, and at that point you can opt-in to automatic backups. This is good from a security perspective as you know that your messages won't be leaving your device unless you specifically choose that.
You can also automatically set up rules to delete specific older messages - you can set it up for OTP messages, promotional messages, and blocked messages - with the options being to delete them after three days, a week, month, or year.
You can also configure the notifications, so that you get a ping only for personal messages, while promotional messages will not bother you. Gesture support lets you mark messages as read, move them, or delete them with a swipe, and when an OTP arrives, you can copy it to the clipboard from the notification. You also get the option to view only unread messages in the different tabs, which is another very useful feature to have.
One of our favourite features is reminders: at the bottom of the app, you'll see three buttons; the first is your inbox, the second is reminders, and the third is favourites, for saved messages. In reminders, you can add a reminder, but you'll also see bill reminders scraped from your SMS. You'll see your different accounts so you can check your bank balance or wallet balance as well, again, taken from your inbox. It's not as detailed as the financial statement you get from SMS based apps like Walnut and MoneyView, but it gives you a quick heads up about your accounts.
These are all features we've seen before in different apps and at different times. Some of these have come as part of the stock apps your phone ships with. For example, on our Xiaomi Mi Max 2, there is a separate Notifications window so you can easily see all your personal messages, and you can copy OTPs from the notification. On our LG G3 (a phone that released four years ago), you could pinch the inbox to show only unread messages.
What SMS Organizer accomplishes is bringing all the different useful features together in a single place, and doing so in a way that's not cluttered or hard to use. Although the Messaging app in MIUI does most of these things pretty well, after having used SMS Organizer for almost a week now, we're pretty reluctant to switch back.