How did group messaging become more difficult?
Back in the day, text messaging was the one reliable method we had to contact many of our friends at once. And, sure, the one message in/reply-all nature of group text messaging wasn’t optimal — it still isn’t to this day — but you could feel fairly confident that everyone you sent a message to was receiving it and viewing it in a somewhat-timely fashion.
But something happened as the years went by. Text messaging became splintered as BlackBerry Messenger emerged as a platform for BlackBerry-to-BlackBerry messaging. And then Apple jumped into the fray with its own service, iMessage. Pretty soon, our phones became swamped with a number of different options, including Facebook Messenger and, more recently, Google Hangouts. Both require accounts on Facebook or Google and both can only message with other account holders on those sites.
A zoomed out view of the messaging landscape shows that, for contacting multiple friends, we’re now using three or four tools instead of just one. Interoperability is pretty much dead, and it’s tough to nail down exactly which of your friends use which services and how responsive they’ll be.
In short, we’ve taken something that worked well and actually made it a little worse.
And with one of the most popular smartphones in the U.S., the iPhone, defaulting to iMessage for iPhone-to-iPhone contact and MMS for group messaging, the mess gets even messier. I used to routinely receive group texts from friends about where we were playing a sport or meeting up for a night out, and there were always a couple of people who didn’t get the messages when they originated from an iPhone.
Some iPhone users have had success turning off both iMessage and MMS, but you shouldn’t have to do that. The process should just work as one expects it to. “It just works” is still the motto, right?
For now, we’ve moved all of our group messaging into Facebook, but not everyone has Facebook Messenger installed and the Facebook app isn’t always good at notifying you about new messages. But it’s the most consistent and reliable option we have at this point. iPhone group messages just don’t behave predictably and, once you introduce one into the mix, it throws off the entire operation.
It just goes to show you that, in a world of newer, better, faster, a flawed original can still be the best option.
Has the way you communicate with groups via mobile changed at all? Are you still doing things through group texts or are you using some kind of messaging service like Facebook Messenger or Hangouts? I’d love to get your thoughts on this.
(Photo credit: Blouin News)
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