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This article was published on April 3, 2011

How Group Chat could dramatically improve Facebook Apps

How Group Chat could dramatically improve Facebook Apps
Stefan Meeuws
Story by

Stefan Meeuws

Stefan Meeuws is a IT journalist from Nijmegen (NL) and works as an online producer and editor for ZB Communicatie & Media. He has a pe Stefan Meeuws is a IT journalist from Nijmegen (NL) and works as an online producer and editor for ZB Communicatie & Media. He has a personal website and spends too much time on social networks like Twitter .

As Group Messaging is all the rage these days, it’ll be interesting to see how the world’s biggest social network, Facebook, is going to implement it. The new Facebook Messages-service makes it even easier to communicate and archive your communications on the social network, but its group messaging functions are severly lacking.

And while I’m being picky, I’m not overly impressed with Facebook’s mobile chat function either. In fact, while Chat does work in the current iPhone app it makes me weep a little on the inside when it doesn’t alert me of new messages when I leave the app or doesn’t even load them when I know they’re there. And besides typing, there isn’t a whole lot you can do.

Note that on Android it does alert you about chats, but only after you’ve started chatting – new chats won’t automatically pop up. Although they may appear in Messages.

I hope this is not just an underdeveloped feature of the (iOS) app but a sign that Facebook is revamping it for a brighter future: a Messages/Chat function that includes group chat. After all, Facebook recently acquired Beluga, so it must be working on something, right.

So how about these improvements:

Mobile group chat
Why do you need to chat with your (Facebook) friends via WhatsApp or Skype or whatever service you’re currently using? Those apps have shown it’s pretty easy to embed links, images and other media in chats, so Facebook should be able to do that too – then we won’t need a separate app for that. And how hard can it be to allow group chatting with more than one friend?

Chat with your groups / lists
Yes, that new Groups feature is okay, but why can I only post status updates and pictures there? It would be awesome to chat with all my friends in my Turin Brakes group, or the party organising team. And if they don’t allow it in groups, they definitely SHOULD allow me to chat with the lists I’ve made. There are times when I would want to chat with all my former school friends at the same time instead of starting twelve chats with with Martijn and all the others separately. Certainly since I have put them all in a list already.

Chat about events
Messages and chats are getting more and more similar on Facebook, but not on the mobile version. Why can’t I chat with other attendees if I want to? Why do I need to “Write Post” or “Share Photo”? And once we start thinking outside the box, why not allow mutual friends chat, add group text based on location? We’ve got Facebook Places, why not let people who are in the same place chat? An Implied Social Network of sorts.

The thing that baffles me most of all is that there’s a lot to gain for Facebook in adding both group texting as wel as other great mobile features to their apps. It would, in fact, make a lot of apps unnecessary and eliminate competition. The Facebook mobile apps have had significantly less updates in comparison to the website and that’s a real shame.

Do you agree that Facebook Group Chat would be an excellent idea or do you like (mobile) Chat the way it is now? What else do you think Facebook’s mobile strategy may need?

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