When you need to get the same message out to a lot of people immediately, you could send them an email, but that's hardly real-time communication. At these times, group texting apps are excellent tools for the job. Here's a look at five of the most popular group messaging apps or services that communicate with several people instantly.
On Thursday, we asked you which apps or services you turned to for group texting: those times when you have to change a meeting place at the last minute or you want to make a big announcement to all of your friends—and keep the real-time communication flowing between everyone without incurring massive texting fees. You weighed in, we collected the votes, and now we're back to review what you suggested.
Available for the iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and even non-smartphones, GroupMe is the Swiss Army knife of group texting and communication apps. Download the app, sign up for an account, and enjoy the ability to send texts to and start conference calls with multiple people in your contacts, or even from Twitter and Facebook. Plus, you can add your location or photos to any message you send. Plus, it's free.
Recently acquired by Facebook, Beluga offers free, dead simple group text messages to iPhone and Android users. Create your group from people you know, keep them completely private, and share your location and photos with them or just send them all a note to coordinate them as a group. Plus, you can send messages to your group from the Web if you don't feel like using your phone.
WhatsApp brings multimedia messaging to the mix, and allows you to send audio and video messages to your friends as well as texts and photos. Plus, the app supports international messages without charge. WhatsApp is available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and select Nokia S60 and Symbian devices. iPhone users buy the client for $0.99 and pay once. Everyone else pays $1.99/year to subscribe.
Sometimes you don't need a fancy app to do what one of your favorite apps already does. A number of you reminded us that Google Voice allows you to send a text to up to five people at the same time, and that works just fine, thank you. Google Voice doesn't offer conversations (each response text is just to you and is a separate message) or location and media sharing, but for many of you, it gets the job done.
Blackberry Messenger is probably the original group texting app. It supports multimedia messages, like photos and videos, and works with your existing contacts. You're not restricted by character length, and you don't have to pay text messaging fees to use it. You don't get the benefit of conversations, but you can send the same message to multiple people. You can only use BlackBerry Messenger with a BlackBerry device right now, and the environment is still a closed one, but rumor has it that may change soon.
Now that you've seen your favorites, it's time to decide which one is the best.
The honorable mention this week goes to Kik Messenger, a newcomer to the genre that supports both Android and iPhones. Kik sports over 3 million members, 1 million if whom downloaded in the first 15 days. It supports conversations, photo sharing, and delivery confirmation. It's likely we'll hear more from them in the future.
Did we miss the app you prefer to use, or do you get the word out a different way? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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