CloudTalk, a group texting app with AOL era like chatrooms

CloudTalk, a group texting app with AOL era like chatrooms

CloudTalk is yet another group messenger app that’s gearing up for the SXSWi Conference in Austin, Texas. CloudTalk is both a platform for other apps and its own app. The company lets developers build apps with voice, texting and photo and video sharing capabilities. And for SXSWi, it’s just announced its new Partner Program.

“CloudTalk brings the speed, convenience and power of voice to the time-shifted way we connect with each other today,” says David Hayden, chairman and CEO of CloudTalk. “We’ve developed a platform that does it all for anyone who wants to go beyond text to integrate rich social communications into their applications.”

As part of its Partner Program, the company atzip launched a new free social meet-up application that connects people who share similar interests and hobbies. We haven’t played with atzip yet, but I did take CloudTalk’s iPhone app, which is still in beta, for a whirl.

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The home screen features Private Conversations (those with friends), People (to keep track of who you talk to) and Communities, called Pana.ma, which let you start or join communities. Unlike its competitors, this app does it all, offering free voice, photo, video, text messages and open AOL era like chatroom communities. But the fact that the app “does it all” isn’t necessarily a win. The feature flood makes the app feel clunky and crowded.

The app also works internationally and thus requires a data connection. This is a bonus over startup darlings GroupMe and Fast Society, as long as you have good 3G coverage.

While pretty standard, the login process was a bit of a hurdle. You have to choose a username longer than 4 characters? CBM was not happy. Enter my password twice? Verify that I am over 13? Then don’t click the button at the below because that will erase everything you’ve just entered. Click the tiny button in the top right corner. Hm… It’s nothing a 12 year old couldn’t accomplish but it’s still harder than it should be considering that getting people to sign up for its service is what the app needs to succeed.

Speaking of 12 year olds, you can also use the app to talk to strangers in CloudTalk communities. This is where the app has lost me. It might be great for you if you’re still in the A/S/L? era of your life, but one more random social network is the last thing the typical human being needs.

But this is the edge CloudTalk is taking- it wants to be a social group messaging app. The app is much more social than GroupMe and Fast Society as it encourages sharing anything on Facebook and Twitter. In fact, Fast Society defines itself as being an undercurrent network of individuals who don’t want to communicate over highly broadcasted airwaves.

I asked founder David Hayden, CEO and Chairman of CloudTalk, a San Francisco based startup, why he would choose to have public communities when there are so many other social networks out there?

“We wanted to give consumers the option to connect with their friends, family and colleagues using their voice, or meet new people with similar interests. The one thing that really differentiates CloudTalk is that it’s also a platform, so apps like its first partner, atzip, really like to have both the public and private options. This is a feature that partners creating social communications apps love about our platform.”

-David Hayden, CEO and Chairman of CloudTalk

I also asked him how users could get their friends to join Cloudtalk over say Groupme, Fast Society or Heywire:

“CloudTalk lets you invite your friends in bulk or individually from your contact list. We will scan your Facebook account and phone contacts with your permission to find other friends already on CloudTalk and set up a contact list for you. We have other features coming which alert you when friends join and allow you to do bulk invitations via email and SMS.”

-David Hayden, CEO and Chairman of CloudTalk

Sounds simple enough, so which group messaging app will you choose?

See our recent articles on GroupMe, Fast Society and HeyWire, the other group messaging apps in the run for attention at SXSWi this week.

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