Talking tech since 2003

One of the top messaging apps, Viber, announced today new features to their group messaging services within the app. The three features bring even more usability to the app, making it a more viable option to directly communicate with more than one person. These features make Viber a worthy opponent to the messaging world’s “big three”- WhatsApp, Telegram, and Messenger.

Viber, which touts over 800 million users on its purple themed messaging app, launched the much awaited feature, pinned messages, now letting admins pin posts to any group message, like they would on Telegram. Pinned messages stay as a little banner within the group history log no matter how much you scroll, making it a great way to remind people that this is a NO SPOILERS Game of Thrones group. You can also post the plans for tonight in your buddy group and those pictures of your baby in the family group. This feature helps avoid clutter in groups by reducing the amount of “Where are we meeting up?” or “What did we say that thing was?” That so often plagues group chats.

The second feature, is message replies. This relatively new feature that has gained popularity in recent months across many platforms seems to be making group messaging a wider medium, as many different conversations can occur at once without harming the flow of conversation across the group itself. This one feature which is becoming more and more standard is making group messaging a surprisingly robust form of communication. Like the difference between when Facebook launched statuses and the state of posting on Facebook right now, it seems group chat is going through a similar process with reactions, stickers, animations, and now threaded conversations, being added in and becoming “basic” group messaging features.

The third and most intriguing feature is something Viber calls “broadcast lists.” Basically a messaging version of a mailing list. You can make a list of people who aren’t in an existing group and send them all the same personal message. The marketing aspect of this type of tool is clear- it makes it easy to send the same message personally to everyone, thus increasing your lead communication and efficiency. For individuals however, the uses can be wider, and maybe more interesting. It’s similar to posting a status on Facebook, but making sure everyone sees it, in the way that you can send important friend updates about your life without having a group or copy-pasting. On the other hand, it could get kind of spammy. Your friend is in a band? Expect to get a “personal message” on Viber anytime a song comes out. Your other friend needs help with likes on some Facebook competition? You’re going to get dinged. This feature is new and somewhat exciting, I wonder how people will use it.

Overall though, Viber seems to still be going strong in a world that seems to be slowly taken over by three major players, two of which are owned by Facebook. If you’re looking for a smart alternative that was first on the scene with phone number based VoIP (and in this reporter’s opinion still the best VoIP service around), Viber is your pick. The thing is, I don’t think any of these features will make users migrate to Viber. But if you’re out there, well, mazel tov, you now have a reason to move to Viber.

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