For the past three weeks, I have been on an apartment hunt with my two roommates for the next academic year. Since we don’t currently live together and we don’t have the same schedules, the next best thing to meeting in person is email or texting. Email is slow, but texting two people the same message every time is also annoying.
Then my roommate found GroupMe, an SMS group messaging app that has got clients for all major mobile platforms, and our communication problems have drastically reduced. Group communication for roommates is just one of the many scenarios for which GroupMe works perfectly. You could perhaps message your family members, colleagues, group project partners, that group of friends who are planning a road trip with you, etc.
We first introduced GroupMe in our MakeUseOf Directory of cool websites and tools. Steve then featured it in his roundup of fun phone apps that can absolutely change the way you send text messages. Not only is GroupMe quite a lot of fun, it also works for almost everyone, not just those that own smartphones.
Not Sure If Your Friend Has A Smartphone? GroupMe Has You Covered
If you are unsure whether the friend you want to talk to has an iPhone [iTunes link], an Android device, a Windows Phone or a Blackberry, you don’t have to sweat it. GroupMe works for any phone in the United States that can send SMS messages. Even though it has clients for all major mobile platforms, GroupMe will be discussed from the SMS perspective, neutral to all smartphones.
You simply start texting “#new Roommates” for example, to the number 47687 which should spell GROUP. After that, you add your friend by texting that same number the command “add Jessica 123 456 7890”. You can add more people with the same command.
When you add your friends, they will get notification messages indicating that they have been added to a group chat. They can choose to stop receiving additional texts from this number simply by texting back ‘STOP’. The following screenshot shows the start of a group chat made possible with GroupMe. My roommates and I started using this phone number at the beginning of March, so it’s been a good month that this number has served us. All the messages were sent smoothly so I was incredibly impressed with GroupMe.
Your group will basically get your own phone number that you and your colleagues can send SMS messages to and that will redirect the message so that everyone in the conversation will receive it.
So unlike any kind of IM app where each person in the conversation must have an ID and download the mobile app in order to join in the conversation, GroupMe facilitates things by relying on SMS group messages that you don’t even have to set up as it does it all for your convenience.
GroupMe is among many other services that are trying to unite users across the globe with messaging apps that ignore network/carrier boundaries and try to replace text messaging. Kik, Google Voice, Boxcar, Facebook Chat are just a few of these services. GroupMe stands out from this crowd of apps because with a single phone number, it can connect people regardless of mobile phone type (whether it’s iPhone, Android, etc.) If you already have a smartphone, you might not quite realize the value of a SMS service such as GroupMe, but that’s not quite what Skype thinks since it acquired GroupMe last year. Thus, GroupMe has definitely gained traction. These days, GroupMe has expanded its feature set to allow users to share photos and share their location with their friends.
Do you know of any other such SMS group messaging services? Let us know in the comments section below.