Group messaging is definitely a known problem. Different people have their own group messaging problems. The #1 problem in group messaging is always on finding that lowest common denominator platform within the group. Dealing with mostly iPhone users may lead you to use iMessage exclusively. But, if you have to deal with Android users, you may have to rely on cross-platform solutions such as WhatsApp or SMS.
There are also other impromptu needs that are not suitable for SMS, e.g. sharing the group photos you just took with newly-met business associates or sending notes to all the meeting attendees. For these cases, you may have to rely on emails instead.
Regardless what your needs are, the built-in iMessage and Mail apps in iOS are not built for sending these messages quickly on your iPhone/iPad. For example, you can’t easily group (and ungroup) people in your Contacts list whom you frequently send messages/emails to. Sending multiple photos from within these apps is not easy, either.
Fortunately, Contrast — the development team behind Launch Center Pro — just released two new apps aimed to ease these problems: Group Text+ to send group iMessage/SMS, and Email+ to send group emails.
Shortcuts to Groups and Individual Contacts
Both GroupText+ and Email+ offer a new approach in the way you manage your frequently-used contacts. I’d suggest you browse your existing behavior in both iMessage app and your Sent Mail folder to determine the best way to use this feature.
Both apps allow you to create pre-defined groups (such as Co-workers, Family, etc.), add individual contacts, and rearrange them in any order. Each time you want to send a new message/email, you can mix and match these icons to fit the needs. For example, you may want to share your holiday vacation photos with your co-workers, family, and one specific friend you meet during that period.
I haven’t bumped into a limit of how many icons you can create, but for older phones with limited screen size (like my 4s), it’s better to only have two rows of icons.
Shortcuts to Camera, Giphy, and the Photo Library
Both GroupText+ and Email+ allow you to select any number of photos from your photo library easily by scrolling sideways and tapping on the ones you want. It would save some time, not having to jump back and forth to another app. It’s also easier than having to start the entire messaging process from within the Photos app: selecting multiple photos and then looking up the contacts from the Sharing Extension.
In fact, you can use the Camera button to shoot a group photo and send it to the people in that photo — all from within these apps. Here are two URL Schemes that you can use from within Launch Center Pro for this use case:
And, it wouldn’t be a Contrast app without the integration to Giphy. Now, it’s even easier to impress your group of friends or family with the amazing collection of animated GIFs. Again, you can use these URL Schemes from within Launch Center Pro to quickly jump to the GIF selection process:
Built-in Text Snippets, Location Sharing, and Music Sharing
I’m sure many of you have setup a canned message action in Launch Center Pro. For heavy canned-message users, you may even have a
[list] for the snippets. Now, you can create as many text snippets as you like within both Group Text+ and Email+ without having to worry about their lengths nor readability.
You can even include emoticons or your favorite Japanese kaomoji in the list of text snippets (e.g.
(╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻). Similar to the photos selection, you can also tap and choose as many text snippets as you like to combine in a single message.
And, to round things up, you can also choose to share your current location or the song you’re currently listening in the Music app.
Sharing Extension, URL Schemes, and x-callback-url
In iOS 8, you can access all these great features from within the Sharing Extension. From testing the apps, the Sharing Extension supports (at least) text, URL, file, and photo. Hence, you can use it from within Safari to share interesting links with your non-Twitter friends and family.
Judging from the development team behind these apps, you can rest assured that they will also support URL Schemes and
x-callback-url in some forms. Other than the ones listed in previous sections, you can also try these:
This allows me to use both apps in conjunction with Drafts. I’d much prefer composing text in Drafts, then copy it into the clipboard, before opening up Group Text+ or Email+ to send the message.
Both Group Text+ and Email+ offer a new approach to group messaging. The way the options are located make the entire process more versatile and quicker to perform. The support for URL Schemes and
x-callback-url also makes it easier to use with other apps — and becomes a part of a larger workflow.
My personal wish is for the Group Text+ to support either WhatsApp Messenger, LINE, or Instagram DM (Direct Message) in the future. WhatsApp is more ubiquitous, whereas LINE allows for up to 200 people in a group, and Instagram DM is great to host photo-based discussions. These networks are huge in Asia and among younger demographics.