August 3, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Since the Google+ Android app introduced Huddles, many Android early adopters abandoned their previous group messaging app. However, an update from GroupMe reminds everyone that Google hasn’t won yet, and better options may still be out there.
GroupMe was one of the first apps to introduce BBM-style group messaging on a non-BlackBerry phone, and the small startup has added some big feathers in its cap today. The user interface of the Android app has been completely redesigned, it now supports direct messaging, and users can ask a question to spark a conversion about anything. GroupMe also promises “major optimizations and improvements” improve app speed and reliability.
Today’s update also gives GroupMe the distinction of being the first group messaging app to reach all of the four top mobile OS’s in the U.S. – Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Windows Phone 7 – and the web. GroupMe.com can now send and receive messages, so users can participate in chats even if they cannot get to their phone. Groupme.com can even add/remove members from a chat and control group settings.
GroupMe 3.0 is exactly the kind of thing that companies will have to do to stave off competition from Google. Even in beta, Google+ is a juggernaut that could put take over the group messaging game if the product is improved and widely-available. Being available on more platforms and having unique capabilities makes GroupMe still the best group messaging app in my eyes. But with a Google+ having a built-in base, GroupMe will need to keep getting better and add features that no one else offers.