Depending on your family dynamics, the holidays are either a magical time or the most stressful period of the year. For many, having a smartphone on hand gives a quick escape from dealing with drama, but it can also serve as a barrier to letting yourself engage with those you love.
Group Text+, an iOS app that makes it really easy to send messages to multiple people, is a perfect utility for dealing with either of those situations. It’s got a few nifty features for sending GIFs without searching for them online or using a buggy iOS 8 keyboard, letting people know what music you’re listening to, or quickly sharing a link from Safari.
It does all of those things very well, though it does come with one unfortunate limitation: While you can create groups of contacts to send messages to or pick them out one at a time, unless you fiddle with a few iMessage/SMS settings, any messages you send to multiple people will create a group message thread where the notifications don’t stop because everyone’s replies go out to everyone else.
But today I had an epiphany: the way the app works with default iOS settings make it the perfect tool for messing with loved ones over the holidays. It takes just a few seconds to add everyone you want to message to the app’s contacts, and from there you’ve got a bunch of options for bugging the heck out of everyone looking to their phones to get away from the ramblings of the racist uncle who watches too much cable news.
If you’re the kind of person who reads TechCrunch, you probably know how to turn off notifications for specific conversations within Messages — I’d recommend doing that as soon as you begin your assault on your friends’ and family’s notifications screens (hint: it’ll be under “Details” in the upper right corner of the message thread).
Once you’ve done that, it’s time to go to town. As far as I’m concerned, the best option is to use the app’s GIF messaging feature (powered by Giphy) to send a bunch of clips of dogs being silly — you don’t want to give off the impression that you’re doing anything but being cute.
If your family is spending too much time on their phones while sitting around the house, the endless notifications from people responding (likely asking to be removed from the thread) will condition everyone to put their phones down. If you’re the one who’s looking for an escape, it’ll give you something to do or at least make the events around you more lively (without needing to resort to starting a conversation about Obamacare or immigration).