I try to spend as little time as possible on my phone, so I’m generally wary of apps and services that even well-meaning friends tell me about. But when I learned about GroupMe, I realized it was one (free!) app that might actually help me waste less time on my phone and use the time that I do spend on it more productively. Launched in 2010 and now used by millions of people across the country on all mobile devices and on your desktop (at groupMe.com), GroupMe offers a way to stay connected with family, friends, Mom’s meet-ups, school volunteer committees, and virtually any other group of people you want to keep in touch with.
I tried out GroupMe’s new Android app, and was surprised at how streamlined and “clean” the design was, refreshingly void of distracting ads. Even for a non-techie like me (full disclosure: this was the first app I have ever downloaded), the app made it easy to load pictures and send messages to my sisters, former college roommates, and the parents in my daughter’s preschool class. Creating the groups I wanted to send messages to was simple as well, thanks to being able to easily pull names and numbers from my phone contacts.
As someone who has spent too much time scrolling through my old texts trying to find the group threads that I want, I found that GroupMe was much more efficient. You can create and name groups of your friends, family, or coworkers or any other group in your life, so it’s a breeze to send messages and pictures to them. The new group members receive an introductory text letting them know where to go to download the app. Each group also has its own URL which you can share, for example, on a listserve you may belong to if you don’t have the direct contact info to invite someone personally. If your technologically-challenged Aunt Bertha doesn’t feel like downloading the app, she can still receive SMS text messages instead (text rates do apply in that case, however).
Adding or subtracting members from these groups is simple as well, so if a child ages out of your kid’s preschool class, you can simply remove his parent’s info from the class group chat. You can also remove yourself from any groups (or conversations) which you no longer want to be a part of. You can even “mute” certain groups or the whole app for a period of time so that bedtime is never interrupted by a book club notice or a women’s roller derby night cancellation.
The sky is the limit for the number of groups you create, making this app the only one you need for organizing, planning, and keeping everyone’s schedules straight. There’s even a convenient “share location” feature when you are trying to find other families at the park or playing fields or if the restaurant you were planning on meeting your friends at turns out to be less than child-friendly.
Most of my messages involve sending pics of my two tots to all of their adoring fans across the nation. With GroupMe, all the photos shared in a group are put in a gallery which anyone in the group can review, making it convenient for ordering pics or even accessing them from your desktop to make slideshows for the family reunion.
Several of my friends who recently became parents have decided against putting pics and info about the newest member of their family on social media due to privacy concerns. GroupMe provides an easy solution for families and friends to safely send photos (and, if you have iOs, short videos) to each other in a secure way since only the members of your particular chosen group will be able to access the images or information. So you can send those eight million photos a day of your little one’s first trip to the animal sanctuary or children’s museum without worrying that you are going to bore or annoy your other friends to death.
And if you like emojis, GroupMe has oodles to choose from for free. Setting the “mood” for your messages is a convenient new function on the new and improved app.
With no future plans to feature ads or charge for their services, GroupMe simplified my decision for a quick and uncomplicated way to communicate with all the different groups of families, friends, coworkers, and parents in my life.