While you may have choices in creating online group messaging capabilities, most of those require everybody in your group being a member of a given social media platform (e.g., Facebook).
Now, most SMS and other straight-messaging avenues DO allow you to perform and manage group texts…but have you seriously ever tried to do so? It can be a straight-up mess, with all messages thrown together in the same thread. And if you don’t have your group filled in your device as contacts (which is common if someone else started the group text), you wind up with a true pile of texts from unknown phone numbers, stating half-hearted responses to the original text….and soon you’re completely lost.
I’ve been an unfortunate participant in several of these fiascoes, planning an event with friends of multiple families, and egods what a disaster……
But there is hope: enter Remind, an app already made popular by schools & teachers across the country. In addition to schools, many kiddo-related educational organizations have also signed up (it is a purchased program for groups/schools). They also have individual plans available for free, so you can sign up and use it as an individual organizer, or as a parent, you can join for free to be part of a group’s messaging service. Thousands and thousands of schools use Remind daily to help parents stay up-to-date on their child’s day and progress.
If there is a bit of challenge with this app (at least in our experience), it’s with getting the invite and logging in to the app for the first time. Again, this is just our experience, but we use it in our household for two separate groups, and in both cases, it was a bit of a pain to get it loaded (and us loaded in it) correctly, ready for use. But it’s not end-of-the-world difficult, and once you’re in, you’re in.
Interface & Use
Once you do get into the app, probably the key highlight of using it is the easy-to-use interface. You won’t find feature-bloat, ads, or other distractions that keep you from finding what you need.
The layout is pretty similar to a lot of social media apps nowadays. I’m using my wife’s app screens in all the photos here: you have your main “timeline” (my word), and swiping in from the left, or pressing the hamburger menu at top-left, brings you your app dashboard….showing all the “classes” (groups) that you belong to.
Similar to selecting a particular email account if you use a single app for multiple accounts. You can select a single class to see the available threads, or you can select ‘All Classes’; this is essentially a combined inbox.
Once you pick a class, you can see all the threads that are active. Selecting a particular thread brings up a text message-style thread. You can read the who/what/when, along with the obligatory, photo, audio, and map recording options. If you started the thread, you can also see who has seen the message (similar to Messenger), giving you an idea of just who is staying in touch.
The app uses your phone number to do all the connections, so you can even call right from the screen. Additionally, there is a small settings pop-up menu available, giving you more options for your group and the app itself.
Remind’s popularity is no mistake. With tens of millions of installs by schools and educational groups around the country, it has cemented itself as a go-to option for easy, clean, efficient group messaging. If you’re a parent, you should definitely give Remind a chance if your school is offering it as a service; you’ll find it a true tool for staying on top of what’s going on in your child’s world while you’re not there.