Texting works best when you’re sending messages to one person at a time. But what if you want to use SMS to communicate with a group of people? It’s not easy.
Most phones don’t make it easy to send texts to more than one person at a time. Even when you can do this (as with the iPhone), anyone who receives your message can only reply to you. That’s inconvenient in a lot of ways. For instance, what if you wanted to organize a meetup with six of your closest friends while you’re all out and about?
A new for-fee service called Betwext might be able to help. It’s kind of like text messaging with a “reply-all” function.
The way it works is you set up an account with Betwext and purchase credits. Then you create groups of people you want to communicate with, and enter phone numbers for each of them.
When you want to text one of your groups, you just send a text message to a special Betwext number and it forwards your note to everyone on that group. If anyone replies to the message, their reply will go first to Betwext, which will then forward it on to everyone in the group. Voila: Instant “reply-all” for SMS!
Setting up and managing your groups is all done through a web interface, so you need to have the groups set up before you’re out on the town, texting.
It’s not free: Betwext charges for its service. If you send 200 messages/month, it’ll cost you $9 per month. For 1,000 messages, Betwext charges $40/month. That’s on top of any text messaging fees your carrier charges you. And the way Betwext works, it counts each message it sends or receives as a single message. So if you send a message to 5 people, Betwext will charge you for 6 messages: One for the message you sent to Betwext, and one for each of the 5 messages it sent out to your group.
It’s not particularly cheap, but for coordinating via SMS, Betwext might be just the ticket.