Using an Android phone as a Channel

We understand that deploying SMS applications has traditionally been one of the trickiest parts when launching ICT4D projects. In fact, it's the primary reason we created TextIt in the first place. It's also why we developed the Nyaruka TextIt Android application

It's simple
: when your TextIt account sends a message, it notifies your Android phone. The phone will then send the message out from your local number on your behalf. If somebody responds to that message, the phone will then relay that message to your TextIt account. 

Message Packs


By default, each Android channel is capable of sending 30 messages/hour. You can send up to 330 messages/hour by downloading our free message packs from the Google Play Store. 

1. Buy an Android phone


We recommend purchasing a single-SIM Android phone, and dedicating it to processing your TextIt messages. Android phones are both capable and inexpensive, and becoming more so every month. 

2. Acquire a local SIM card


If you don't already have one, you'll want to acquire a SIM card from your local carrier of choice. We recommend setting the account up to be data enabled. However, if you feel comfortable relying on your Wi-Fi connection, that's okay too. We also encourage that the account be on a post-paid plan so you don't have to worry about the phone running out of credit.

3. Install the TextIt mobile application


You can download the free Android app from Google Play. Once the app is installed, it will give you a 9-digit claim code that you then enter on the website. That's all there is to it. From then on, that phone will handle sending and receiving messages for your TextIt account.

4. Give the phone a good home


Android phones are great because they can be used in even the most challenging environments. You only need to locate one place in the country where you will have the most reliable power and good phone signal. You will need either a Wi-Fi or GSM data connection, but if you can get both, even better. The phone will be smart about which network to use if one connection isn't working well. Note that you can use the Alarm Events webhook to keep track of the status of your phone and make sure it's connected to the network, charged and able to send text messages. In order to hep you manage it's state, TextIt will send you events when an alarm condition occurs with your phone. 

Installing the Android Application


To review, you'll need:
  • An Android phone
  • An activated SIM card
  • A computer
  • An Internet connection
1. Open the Google Play store on your Android phone, search "Nyaruka TextIt," then tap the application icon to open the download page. 



2. Tap the "Install" button to begin the download process.  



3. Tap the "Accept" button to accept the terms and initiate the download.



4. Once the download is complete, tap the "open" button to open the application.  



5. Take note of your claim code; it will link your Android phone to your TextIt account. 



6. Sign-in to the TextIt website to add the phone to your account.


 


7. Either click the "channels" tab or navigate to your account page, click the "gear" icon, then select the "Add Channel" option.





8. Click the "Android Phone" option. 



9. Enter the claim code found in your Android application, then enter the phone number attached to the SIM card present in your Android phone. 



Navigating the Application


You can increase your hourly sending capacity by installing our message packs. One pack is equal to a 30 message increase, and there are 10 packs to download. If you want to send more than 330 messages per hour, you can enable bulk sending through Nexmo



While the Android application is active and communicating with the TextIt website, all incoming and outgoing messages will be recorded. To stop recording messages, you may tap the "TextIt Active" panel to pause the application. You will receive an email notification if the application is paused.

Android phones have redundant network connections and a backup battery. So, if the office where it is located loses power or the network goes down, the TextIt app will continue to relay messages. In most cases, using an Android phone with TextIt means you can just "set it and forget it." We'll automatically notify you if the phone is running low on battery, out of credit, or doesn't have network connectivity so someone can check up on it.

 

Configuring your Settings


Tap the icon in the top right corner of the application to navigate to the "Network Settings" screen, where you can toggle your settings or reset the application to remove it from your account. 


Make sure to enable Airplane Reset mode to ensure your phone stays connected to WiFi even during long periods of inactivity:


Activity Log


Tap the bottom panel to view your activity log, including phone registration and message history. 


Android Application F. A. Q. 


What if I need to send a lot of messages?

We encourage people to validate their ideas and experiment before focusing on scaling. Starting with Android phones is a logical starting point for most projects and you'll have no problem sending up to around 1,000 messages per hour. If you do outgrow that, we can help you connect your TextIt account with a local aggregator or even a direct connection with the carriers themselves.

What happens if the battery dies?

Android phones are great because they have redundant network connections and a backup battery. So, if the office where it is located loses power or the network goes down, the TextIt app will continue to relay messages. In most cases, using an Android phone with TextIt means you can just set it and forget it. We'll notify you automatically if the phone is running low on battery, out of credit, or if it doesn't have network connectivity so someone can check up on it.

Can I use a short code? What about reverse billing?

While these features are generally viewed as unique to SMPP accounts, in some countries the carriers will allow short codes to point to sim accounts. This means texting or calling that short code would route to your Android phone. In some cases these sim-based accounts can also be reverse-billed.

Does the fee I pay to TextIt include messaging fees?

No, the fee covers the use of the TextIt platform. Any messaging rates imposed by your carrier apply.

Will TextIt work for my remote ICT4D project?

We understand that deploying SMS applications has traditionally been one of the trickiest parts when launching ICT4D projects. In fact, it's the primary thing that drove us to create TextIt in the first place. We try hard to make it as easy as possible but we realize that you probably have questions on what this all means for your specific project. Please contact us with any questions and we'll help you work through your options.




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