July 23, 2010

textPlus Boosts Popular Texting App With Communities

textPlus, the popular application for iDevices and Android that lets you text or group text for free, launched version 2.5 of their app on Thursday with a major new enhancement that delivers a pinch of nostalgia, thanks to the debut of communities based on topics that are reminiscent of the Web gone by - harking back to early AOL and Compuserve forums when "A/S/L?" meant a lot more than DSL. The searchable communities database brings with it the potential to connect people of similar interests across the Web - to chat, via text, in real time.

Just like the AOL chatrooms of old, practically any sensical term searched already has results, initiated by textPlus users fanatical about any topic - be it to discuss television shows American Idol and Glee, to adore cute little puppies in the Dogs room, or the mainstays of public forums, sports, technology, and yes... porn (although I assume text porn is pretty tame).

textPlus Finds Your Contacts in Your Address Book for Texting

textPlus has gained a significant following for its free alternative to carrier-based texting, and the option to carry on conversations with a group of friends through the app - something US telcos have not yet solved, even as international carriers have. The company's move to create topic-based discussions, no matter the source, helps transform the product to a portable community for any Apple or Android mobile device.

Becoming a Member of a textPlus Community

Since I first tiptoed into textPlus last year, the product has added several new features that provide serious polish. You can opt out of its add-supported model for a full 12 months by paying $2.99 (which I did), and you can even scan your local address book (at least on the iPad version) to find which of your friends are already using the app, making them very easy to send texts to. The iPad app is especially sharp, bringing text chats into both portrait and landscape modes in full screen.

One Popular Group Has 100 Members and is Full

If you find communities in textPlus that strike your fancy, click "become a member" and you will be following that community's updates. You can also leave any community by swiping left to right and choosing "Leave". The product's simplicity was welcome, and might even be too easy to join or start communities, as many rooms feature just the initial creator, while others, like one on "Dogs" was at its limit of 100 registrants. I would be intrigued by textPlus opening the option to more than 100 active users for hot topics, and seeing the conversation blossom.

A Hot Community in textPlus

You can find more about textPlus' new app and its free texting communities at http://www.textplus.com/ or on iTunes and the Android Marketplace. textPlus is a product of Gogii, a Kleiner Perkins-funded startup based in Southern California.