Startups gearing up for the SXSW are shining up their apps and hoping to Wow the crowds of iPhone-toting hipsters by releasing major upgrades in advance of the Austin conference. Among group texting apps alone, in the past week we’ve seen new releases from GroupMe, Fast Society, Beluga, and others. Everyone’s put their best face forward and now the race is on to see which one will become the group texting app of choice at the SXSW.
But wait, not so fast, SXSW society. GroupMe is not quite done. A week ago, it pushed out an impressive new app that offers the option to swap out SMS for push notifications and a full in-app stream. But today, it just put out a “2.1 More Thing” release for both iPhone and Android, including the ability to broadcast “joinable groups” on Twitter and Facebook, better group discovery, data connection speed detection, and special features for people setting up SXSW groups.
The joinable groups feature lets you set up a group and make it visible to other friends who you did not explicitly add to the group. It also lets you broadcast to your friends on Twitter and Facebook. People can then request to join the group. Group creators must approve new members, keeping the semi-private nature of the groups intact. (Fast Society added a similar feature in its release yesterday).
Now, when you tap on the name of anyone in one of your groups, you will see a list of mutual groups you both belong to. And if you start a SXSW group, you will see special locations in the map view, including parties and GroupMe’s “secret plans.” This feature seems like it could be ripe for sponsorships. Finally, GroupMe will detect the speed of your data connection, and drop down to SMS for people using the apps when other mobile data pipes are congested or not available.