Making plans via group chat goes a little like this; one brave soul tentatively makes a suggestion to meet up. A date and time is suggested, but one friend can’t make it because she plays Netball on a Tuesday so makes a counter-suggestion, during which time another friend has already confirmed to the original date. Five days and 127 messages later and not only has your crew has lost any inclination to catch up, you’re not 100% sure if you even like them anymore.
But before you do anything rash – like turn off your notifications or leave the group altogether – rest assured that there are ways to get your squad’s social life in order. Here are a few of our favourites:
If your group chat has ever descended into a full-blown squabble over the when’s and where’s of your catch up, you’re going to love Rundavoo’s ‘vote’ feature. Once each member has cast their vote on the time, Rundavoo – which is linked up with Foursquare and Yelp – then helps you find a place. And yes, you can take that to vote too. Making a dinner reservation? Let their integration with OpenTable take care of that for you.
Doodle works by syncing to your smartphone calendar so it knows if the movie date you’re RSVP’ing yes to clashes with your nan’s birthday dinner, even if you don’t. But not only does this app greatly reduce the validity of your flakey friend’s “I’m sorry, I forgot I said yes to something else weeks ago” excuse (seriously, we’re on to you), it also allows the organiser to throw out a range of potential dates and times, with attendees picking the one that works for them. Simple.
This app is perfect if you tend to be the member of your squad who instigates most of the plans. By syncing your events and calendars, you can see at a glance when you next have a pocket of time free and it knows if you’re about to double book yourself before you throw out that invitation. But wait, it gets even better – it tells you what the weather is supposed to be doing on the day too. Picnic disaster averted. Short of actually getting you dressed and driving you to said rendezvous, you couldn’t really ask for more from an app.
Much like the other apps cited here, you can use MESH to organise your every day social activities. However, this app really comes into its own when you and your crew plan trips away, with each attendee able to share flight and hotel reservations so your friends can book the same. You even have the option to share payment, should you desire (hello Hen Do and Buck’s party planners).
High school friends-turned Berkeley college engineers Jimmy Liu, Zuhayeer Musa and Danish Shaik created Bash – an app that allows users to post event details, invite others, RSVP and keep track of a list of attendees – after one tedious group chat session too many. “Rather than ending with a time and a place, those conversations ended with hundreds of unrelated messages and a confused group of friends,” says Bash co-founder Danish Shaik. “Messaging wasn’t made for organising hangouts, so we built a platform that was.” Similar to Facebook events, Bash is a standalone app also has a diary-like function that shows upcoming events for the week so you can’t lose track of all your imminent happenings, you socialite you!
Hatch Plans comes with all the bells and whistles of the others – it has a voting system, it’s integrated with Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter and you can save events to your calendar. But unlike the other apps available, Hatch Plans doesn’t eschew the idea of group chat altogether, choosing to use a combination of messaging and the above features to make – sorry, hatch – plans.