Group Messaging Faceoff | Who’s Your Champion?

Aug 12, 2011 • Applications, Mobile, Startups
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With the rise of mobile phones in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, it was not hard to get a hold of someone. But what if you want to get a hold of a group of people? And what if a conference call is not an option and you want to get in touch discreetly? Nowadays we have smartphones with email that always on data connections and there are different ways to contact multiple people. We take a look at different group messaging apps to see which app is best.


One of the first group messaging apps to hit the market, PingChat has versions for the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry handsets. If you have friends on different platforms, PingChat is definitely high on the list of candidates. Along with text, PingChat allows you to send pictures, video, GPS location and even voice notes. The app also supports visual cues to show if a user has received or read a message. It also lets you know if a user is currently typing a response, very useful if you’re the paranoid type and want to know if someone is replying to your messages.

The main downside I see with this app is with it’s speed and design. The app isn’t the best looking app of the group. The chat bubbles are a little large and look a bit too cartoony for my taste. The app also seems a bit slow and buggy. Tap inputs don’t register as quickly as I’d like and the app frequently crashes when launching from a push notification.


GroupMe was first conceived at TechCrunch Disrupt, a half day hack day in New York of May this year. GroupMe differentiates itself from other group chat apps by basing its service on SMS. You can create a group chat by adding friends and send a message, the service assigns a unique phone number, like the ones on, to that new group. Once the group is created, anytime someone replies to that unique number, everyone receives the message. GroupMe, of course, also has a mobile app that is available on all the major mobile platforms, Windows Phone 7 included, so saving those unique numbers to your contacts is not necessary. The things I like about the service are its speed, design and its mute feature.

GroupMe1 Photo Aug 09 9 59 46 PM
I decided to give GroupMe a try after I felt PingChat was too slow and buggy. I appreciated the app’s clean and understated design. The app launches fast and doesn’t feel bogged down. One of the greatest features of the GroupMe app is the mute feature. The novelty of group messaging is that everyone can send messages and everyone in the group receives them. Very similar to AOL chat rooms to those of us that can remember. Receiving a push notification for every message can quickly get annoying. Silencing your phone means you won’t hear other notifications you might deem important. GroupMe lets you mute a group’s notifications. While you won’t miss any messages, you won’t receive a push notification every time someone sends a message.

Google+ Huddles

With the release of the Google+ iOS app, Google introduced the concept of Huddles. The Huddles feature in the Google+ app is as basic as you can get with group messaging. You can add multiple users to a huddle and there is an input box for text. That’s pretty much it.

Google’s implementation is great in that its interface is simple and very easy to use. However, Google+ Huddle is very feature limited. No location tagging, pictures, or voice and you must be a Google+ user to participate.


One overlooked method of communicating with a group of people is good old SMS/MMS. On most of today’s smartphones, you can send an SMS to multiple contacts. On an iPhone, the Messaging app is smart enough to label each response from every sender with their name so you know who is sending each message. As you can imagine, this method is the simplest and therefore has the least amount of features; sending text is the only feature supported. On the other hand, almost all cellphones made within the past 10 years supports SMS so if you need to contact a group of people and want to guarantee that everyone receives the message, nothing beats SMS.

These aren’t the only messaging apps out there. I know I’ve left out a couple, namely Kik, Beluga and the just announced Messenger app from Facebook. And let’s not forget Apple’s iMessages app from the upcoming release of iOS 5. These are all major players in the mobile group messaging platform. From my experience, GroupMe provides the best features in the cleanest interface with support for the most of the major mobile phone platforms. Do you have other suggestions for a group messaging app? Let us know in the comments.

Jay Torres

Jay Torres has been writing about all things interesting on his website since 2001. A sales engineer by trade, his interests include Apple, social media, mobile computing and finding the next big thing.

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