Immediately following their launch a few months ago, I noted that Beluga was my group messaging app of choice. I didn’t expect that to change leading up to SXSW — then Facebook stepped in and bought the service. When I first heard about it (when we broke the story), my heart sank a bit — another Facebook acquisition casualty, I thought. But Facebook immediately started saying that this deal was different, that Beluga would continue to be fully supported for the time being. And sure enough, today we get an update.
Specifically, the iPhone version of the app has gotten some final pre-SXSW polish today. It’s not a huge update, but it’s an important one. With the conference now just days away, competition in the group messaging space is really heating up. Both GroupMe and Fast Society have significantly overhauled their apps. Beluga needed to step up with some sort of update. And they have.
So what’s new in version 2.1? First of all, not surprisingly, Facebook Single Sign-On has been implemented. Secondly, there are now mute options to allow you to silence your pods for either 1 hour or until 8 AM in the morning. (And you can do this just for certain pods, or for all of them.) Third, the app now has a much better navigation system with the “Pods”, “People”, and “News” sections all broken up along the bottom of the app.
Hopefully we’ll keep seeing regular updates like this from the Beluga team into the future. But eventually, you have to believe that they’re going to have to get to work on their Facebook assignments (Groups and Messages). Let’s hope SXSW isn’t the last hurrah.
You can find Beluga in the App Store here.