Spotlight, Limelight, Buzzing, Trending, whatever you want to call it, group messaging apps are hot, evolving and likely to end up on your iPhone or iPad. Thus, to help bring a bit of clarity with regards to who the key players are right now, as well as what you can expect, we are unveiling the top three group messaging apps.
GroupMe – Free
Groupme is a name you may recognize. First appearing in the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon, GroupMe has since garnered a large and loyal following, as well as over $11 million in funding.
With regards to functionality, GroupMe offers the core feature of group texting, however, they have bundled this with conference calling. Hence, users are able to text or call multiple contacts simultaneously. GroupMe provides up to 25 simultaneous users the ability to text or call, and you are also able to share media files, such as photos, with groups online.
Like others in this evolving niche, GroupMe polished and launched an updated app in time for SXSW. The upgraded iPhone app is more robust, offers greater stability, and more importantly, users may now text via push notifications, rather than SMS. Sorry AT&T and/or Verizon, your laughing-all-the-way-to-the-bank SMS fees will not profit here.
Beluga – Free
Although Beluga sounds more like a bodily function that an iPhone app, it is actually quite sophisticated. Beluga calls their groups pods, and although they may not have as many bells and whistles as other group messaging apps, their user satisfaction tends to be higher due to a greater level of stability.
Before we delve into the features on this app, it is worthy to mention that Beluga was fairly recently acquired by none other than Facebook. Yes, Beluga, you may stand up and take a bow. You now have a juggernaut, social media powerhouse behind you. But Beulga is more than just accolades; their app has the functionality to deliver solid group messaging performance. We love that as a default Beluga utilizes push notifications, and they only resort to SMS on a need-to basis should push notifications fail.
SXSW does tend to bring out the best in app developers, and as you would expect, Beluga launched a recent update which begins to meld in the Facebook elements that we have come to love, or is it addiction? Either way, the new Beluga signs you in via Facebook, and the navigation has taken a page from Facebook as well, thus you will be more familiar with the look and feel if you are an avid Facebook user.
GroupedIn – Free
The group messaging space is indeed rather crowded, but GroupedIn is trying to squeeze in and gather some media attention.
GroupedIn is getting some buzz from SXSW, and rightfully so. The app makes it easy to create groups form the iPhone app, however, you can also communicate with members who do not own an iPhone via SMS.
GroupedIn is similar to other group messaging apps, and the functionality is as expected, however, there is one key element that GroupedIn has incorporated in efforts to stand out from the crowd: social media integration. Both Twitter and Facebook are elements built into the app, thus allowing users to Tweet their messages or post them directly to users Facebook walls, if permitted.
At the moment, these are the big movers and shakers, or more specifically, the big texters and sharers. However, this space is really starting to heat up, and we are excited to see it evolve.