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Google slides into group texting with Disco Messenger iPhone app

Disco Ball

Google jumped on the group texting bandwagon late this week with the launch of the Disco Messenger app for the iPhone. Some have called the app a “secret,” since it didn’t arrive bearing the Google name. Instead, the app was released by Slide, a company Google purchased last August for $182 million.

Like most group messaging apps now available, Disco allows users to create groups and send texts to everyone in the group at once. It is currently available only for the iPhone as a mobile app, and can also be accessed on the web at Disco.com. (As TechCrunch reports, Google purchased that domain at Domainfest last year for $255,000.)

From our initial tests, it seems as though Disco could have used a bit more polishing before going public. In other words, the app works as advertised, but its functionality is still a bit clunky.

Once the app is downloaded, users must send a text message to Disco to activate their phone.

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After this, users can start creating groups. This part is fairly straightforward — a contact list pops up, and you just check each name you’d like to include in the group. Select the “create group” button, and the group is automatically assigned a unique phone number by Disco. And that’s basically it.

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From what we can tell from the little time we’ve had to spend with the app so far, the biggest downfall with Disco is in how it handles group management. To update a group, you must text send a text message to Disco with the name and number. Group management can also be done through the website, which, unfortunately, is much more simple than doing it through the app.

Disco isn’t a bad app — just a bit more stripped down than some of its competitors, like GroupMe and Beluga. The lack of bells and whistles does allows Disco to have a bit zippier functionality that other group messaging apps, so that’s a plus.

Before going crazy with texting all your friends, know that you are charged standard rates for the text messages sent through Disco, which is free to download. (Unlimited texing through AT&T, or 5000 monthly texts through Verizon, costs roughly $20 per month.)

The consensus among those in the tech world seems to be that the group messaging sector is already too crowded as it is — and Disco may have come to the party a bit to late, with not enough to stand out from the competition.