You agree to coach your kid's soccer team and excitedly send out that first group text to all the parents. First off, half of them never get it. Secondly, you start receiving a ton of separate responses. And why won't it let you add certain phone numbers? Welcome to the stupefying world of group texting.
Why does it have to be so complicated?
When you send a group text, depending on your settings, your phone will decide how that message is delivered.
From an iPhone, there are three options.
iMessage can send texts to other iOS devices using iMessage. The texts are always encrypted, are sent through Apple instead of your carrier if possible, and appear in blue text bubbles. Everyone in the group text will be able to receive photos, videos, audio messages and any included special effects. Using this method allows anyone in the group text to share their location. All responses will be in one beautiful, continual thread. With this method, you will be able to add or remove people at any time.
MMS stands for multimedia messaging service. Your phone may pick this method when not everyone is using iMessage. Messages are sent through your carrier and will appear in green text bubbles. These texts are not encrypted, but everyone with proper phone capability will be able to see photos and videos. Responses on this will also be in one thread. You will not be able to later add or delete people with this type of group text.
SMS or Short Message Service may be the method of delivery when some people in the group text are not using iOS devices. Again, the messages are not encrypted, go through your carrier and will appear as green text bubbles. Recipients will not be able to see photos, videos or any effects added to the message. These are the annoying group texts where every single response shows up as a separate text on your phone. That means, other people in the group text never see those responses. You are not able to add or delete people.
For Android users, there is no universal way phones send group texts. Many Android users want to be able to customize their phones and may be thrilled there isn't a standardized group text method.
If you want the group text and all responses to appear in one thread, enable MMS/group texts, but note this will use data. Create a group, and if it's a collection of people to whom you regularly send group texts, name it. That group will appear as a contact and is editable. That way, you are able to easily add or remove people from this group next time you want to send a group message.
With all group texting, no matter if you are an Android or iOS user, carriers sometimes impose limits on the number of people who can be part of a group text.
When group texts seem to multiply upon themselves and grow unmanageable, you can always leave the conversation, but everyone will get a notification that you've left and may get snippy. Plus, some people feel guilty if they ditch a group thread. With iOS, you can instead turn on the Do Not Disturb feature for that particularly bothersome group text. That will simply mute the conversation, so your phone quits buzzing every few seconds when someone adds a thumbs-up emoji to the thread.
Android users generally have a similar option. For people using Google Messenger, for instance, tap the three dots in the upper-right corner. Then choose People & options, and turn off Notifications for that group text.
Finally, if you don't want to deal with any of this, there are some great group messaging apps. These options will do away with any Android/iOS group text problems you may have.
The one I've been using is GroupMe: Free for Android & iOS. It has an easy setup, and offers location sharing and custom emojis. The app also just added an RSVP, so you can schedule that extra soccer practice and see exactly who will be there and ready to go in their shin guards and cleats.