March 18, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Group messaging apps are all the rage right now. Smartphone users want to send group text messages, chat in real-time with friends, share photos or locations, and do much more than the pre-installed apps on their Android phones allow. That’s what makes BlackBerry Messenger the saving grace of RIM’s end user experience, and why so many “BBM for Android” apps have emerged in the last six months.
What’s the best group messaging app? The recent South by Southwest Interactive conference led to more group communication apps releasing on Android, so we thought it was time to put the best of these options up against each other. SxSW also reminds us that not everyone has been wise enough to buy an Android phone, so this app battle considers cross-platform availability. Popularity among your friends may make certain apps worthless, but these are the best options of the many BBM for Android apps. Below is a mini-review of each app, as well as a chart that compares the important feature set of each.
Before Facebook acquired Beluga, I was convinced that this would be the group messaging app of choice. It supports both Android and iPhone, but more importantly, it looked like and linked-to Facebook. Anyone can log-in and immediately get the hang of this dead-simple “Pods” system that creates private groups for friends to post messages, pictures, locations, and plan events.
Beluga is a ridiculously simple way for me to communicate with my brother and sister-in-law at the same time, plan outings with my friends, and save on time spent sending duplicate messages. However, the requirement of Android 2.1 or iOS has meant that I’m only able to communicate with contacts who have an HTC EVO 4G, Samsung Epic 4G, Droid X, etc. I consider this one of the better options if group communication is a top priority and most of your friends are on Android/iPhone, but people with a BlackBerry-heavy circle should look elsewhere.