The annual SXSW conference is well-known for being one of the most important events in the interactive industry. It’s a wild event full of product launches, hit-or-miss conference sessions, great networking opportunities and sponsored parties.
This year’s event didn’t have a killer product launch like in years past (i.e.- Twitter, Foursquare, etc.) but did feature a lot of interesting new apps, software and services. One of the most noticeable trends of late is the intersection of group messaging and location. Nearly all notable mobile apps making noise at this year’s event feature some aspect of group communication, location sharing or a combination of both.
Here’s a list of 6 mobile applications that made a splash at this year’s event. Some were released prior to SXSW, but most gathered a lot of attention or became more widely known either due to their launch, media attention or user popularity during the Interactive conference.
Perhaps the breakout hit at this year’s conference was GroupMe- a smartphone application that allows the private sharing of text messages, photos and locations with a select group of friends. You can start groups with people already in your contacts, or invite them from Twitter, Facebook or email.
Once you have your group created, you can send a message to everyone in the group, start an instant conference call, share photos or share your location. When your group members share their location you can see everyone’s location on a map.
GroupMe works on any phone that can handle text messages, and those with smart phones can use the GroupMe app.
Pathcrosser allows you to cross paths with friends to see where you’ve been and find new places to try.
To start, you pick places you’ve been or connect to Foursquare and/or Facebook Places to import your location history, then bump with friends to cross paths. Once you’ve connected, you can see what locations you have in common and can explore what places you may want to try.
To learn more about Pathcrosser, check out this article from ReadWriteWeb. It even includes a video demonstration of Pathcrosser’s many features.
Hashable is a great business networking app. Hashable makes it easy to keep track of who you’re meeting. You can exchange business cards, check-in with people at locations, make introductions and see who your friends are meeting. When you meet someone, you can use a hashtag to indicate how you met along with their Twitter handle or email address.
Once you have your account started you can track relationships, create a network of whom you connect with most often and find new people to connect with by seeing who your friends are meeting.
Beluga is group messaging made easy. It’s a simple app for communicating with multiple people at once. You can use it to plan an event and share updates, photos or locations.
To use Beluga you create a “pod” of people, and each time one of you publishes a message, everyone gets a copy. Recipients can use the Beluga smartphone app or they can use SMS messages.
Beluga was acquired by Facebook on March 1st, so we’ll see how this effects its functionality moving forward.
Hurricane Party helps you get together with friends by making it easy to locate each other and create “parties”. You can either join a party or start your own.
You can use Hurricane Party to tell you where your friends are in real-time and share status updates and RSVP to the gatherings that matter most to you.
Eightbit Me is old-school meets new-school. It’s a fun check-in app that let’s you create an 8-bit character, check-in to places and earn points when you do so with friends.
In the Eightbit Me app you can design your avatar and choose how you want it to look. When you check-in to locations, your avatar appears along with those of your friends, which lends an interesting angle to check-ins as you can actually “see” your friends who are with you. Even in 8-bit, it gives a more personal touch to check-ins than many of the more popular apps.