It has been over three months since we first broke the news on the existence of Disco, the group messaging app made by the Slide team within Google. Google still refuses to talk about it. But work continues nonetheless. Today brings version 3 of the app — and the app is starting to get really good.
Just a little over a month after Disco was updated to version 2.0 with Push Notifications, today’s update brings a range of key new features. The biggest one is photo sharing, a feature which is now a must-have for all group messaging apps. Also new is 1-to-1 chat capabilities. But the most important additions may be the things Slide/Google is trying to do to help differentiate Disco from the rest of the pack. Namely, they’ve baked in Twitter and Yelp integration.
Yes, it may seem a bit weird for an app built within Google to rely on two rivals, but the features are interesting. Using the new “Star” commands, you can choose to follow any Twitter feed within a Disco group and see all the updates from that account within the app. You can also call up Yelp recommendations and reviews right from within the app with the new feature. Finally, you can also create a poll for everyone in the group using the Star options.
Disco also comes with a nice little bonus. If friends are not yet using Disco, you can still interact with them via SMS within the app. And the app will allow you to do this with up to five friends absolutely free of charge (though I assume they can still get charged for receiving the text).
While Google still won’t talk about Disco, perhaps it is ideal to just let that team do their own thing. Clearly, they are iterating fast minus all the oversight they might normally get as a regular group within Google. In just a few months, the Slide team has brought Disco from yet another group messaging client, into a really good one.
At the same time, the team is also working on other apps, like Pool Party, a group picture sharing app. I’ve been playing around with that for the past week, and it’s also pretty solid. If the slide team combined the two, it could be really interesting.
Of course, I’m also still interested to see how these Slide apps do in the face of Google+, which offers much of the same basic functionality. Google+ for Android has been out for over a week now, and it includes the Huddle group-messaging app. The G+ iPhone app remains in review, but should be out shortly — my guess would be next week.
A Google project headed by Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz, Google+ is designed to be the social extension of Google. Its features focus on making online sharing easy for users. “Circles,” think social circles, akin to Facebook’s lists. “Sandbar,” a user-unifying toolbar. “Sparks,” a search engine for sharing content between users. “Messenger,” a group messaging app that allows users to share with certain “Circles.” “Hangouts,” group video chatting designed to allow up to 10 users video chat at once. Each Google+ user can replace his...