group messaging

GroupMe, a popular group-messaging app from Microsoft, has just received an update for Windows Phone. In addition to bug fixes and improvements, version 4.7 brings a new group design. It’s now easier to explore the photos and videos shared in your groups in the gallery. The group avatars have also been made larger. Read on for the full change log.

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With the same phone launching on many carriers, we sometimes get an illustration of how carriers configure things differently. Sometimes they do it for financial reasons, other times because of network compatibility. We're not sure which 'Group Messaging' falls under but evidently if you're on Verizon, you are surrendering that feature as compared to your AT&T, T-Mobile or unlocked brethren. 

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Phew! We've been following the evolution of eBuddy XMS on Windows Phone since inception. The once ugly duckling app is now a beautiful and powerful alternative to the native Threads feature built into Windows Phone.

We're now hearing from the team that an update is propagating through the Marketplace, enabling 30-way group messaging across iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone devices! (If your friends are still rocking Nokia s40/s60 devices, they have to wait a little longer.)

eBuddy XMS is a free app that you can find here at the Windows Phone Marketplace. We haven't gotten our hands on the update yet, but if you have, share your thoughts in the comments or on our forums.

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Group Messaging in Mango: the MMS gambit

We actually heard about this little issue from our own Jay Bennett, but others have taken note as well. In short, when using the Group Messaging feature in Mango, by default the messages will use the MMS format instead of SMS. The reason for this is not too clear, though it has something to do with trying to keep all the messages grouped together in a thread (perhaps someone with more knowledge can explain in comments).

However, you can (and probably should) turn this off.  Like a lot of folks, you may have a limited monthly allotment of MMS messages and you be charged a ton for a 'few' conversations otherwise. To disable this feature, simply go to Settings --> Applications --> Messaging and turn off the MMS part. So what about Group Messaging? Well, as far as we know, it still works but will now use the SMS method. Only downside, which we have to verify, is that it might not group properly. Still, that's a small inconvenience versus a large, unexpected bill at the end of the month, no?

Big thanks to 'We Love Windows Phone' for the tip and screen shots.

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Another week, another leak of Windows Mobile 7.5 ('Mango') features. Once again, the chaps at Windows Phone Dev Podcast have managed to get their hands on some screen shots of reportedly new features coming this fall to Windows Phone. And once again, if true, you won't be disappointed.

  • Windows Live Messenger, Facebook chat and AOL Instant Messenger all integrated under Messaging--and remember, we heard this is rumored to be a dual data/SMS system, making it really reliable even when your connection is not. Your presence as well as your friends are displayed in the People Hub dynamically.
  • Office 365 and Skydrive built into Office hub--'nuff said
  • Group Messaging: currently there are some nice 3rd party apps that do this, but the ability to have pre-defined groups to message to will be now native, allowing to create quick groups for Family, Work, Friends, etc. This will work for Email and SMS.
  • Artist art on Lockscreen: This is very cool, especially those with Zune HD players. What this does is pull down the Zune/Artist artwork of your current selection and plays it in a marquee/banner fashion on the screen. It currently does this on your Zune desktop/Xbox (play some music and wiat a few mins, you'll see). Evidently, in WP7.5, you can do this on your phone, making the Zune HD/Windows Phone distinction even less. This was always an awesome thing on the Zune HD, so we're glad it's being brought over.
  • Games Hub gets a facelift, including 'sync' option (potentially for online-game play). We first reported this back at MIX11, so now it's confirmed.
  • Native Checkins are coming e.g. Facebook Places. More info here.
  • Visual Voicemail will use Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP)
  • Battery saving features/options (under Settings)
  • WiFi Hotspot support, uses Network Communication and Information Systems (NCIS) technology

Not bad, not bad at all. The messaging features should be very popular as well as the other additions coming to Mango--an update that is rapidly turning into a major overhaul of the entire Windows Phone system. We expect to see more, of course, come May 24th in New York City, so make sure you join us for all the live coverage!

Source: Windows Phone Dev Podcast; Thanks, Brianna, for the heads up

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