Carriers have long been trying to find ways to beef up their SMS services, not only to justify the prices they charge for the aging messaging technology, but also to keep the threat of over-the-top communications apps at bay. Verizon Wireless may have found a way to breathe life into its SMS client.
In the next few weeks, Verizon will launch a new version of its Messages cross-platform texting app, incorporating a bevy of new communications and social media features. But the most significant upgrade comes courtesy of Glympse. Verizon Messages will allow customers to temporarily share their location with Glympse directly within the messaging client.
For those of you unfamiliar with Glympse, its a nifty service that lets users share their map coordinates, intended destinations and estimated times of arrival for set intervals, either within Glympse’s app or in a web browser. Normally when you send a Glympse, you open its app, designate recipients and set a duration. Recipients get a text message prompting them to open Glympse or a URL in a browser to see the sender’s location.
Verizon’s integration would allow you to skip all of those steps. Hitting a button in the Messages app instantly shares your location for 15 minutes with everyone in the conversation. Instead of getting links or app prompts, the recipients see the map rendered in Messages’ conversation stream. Messages users can also request Glympses from others through the same interface
In one sense this might seem like a minor time-saver, letting you avoid opening up another app or your browser, but in my mind it’s still an incredibly useful feature. The whole point of Glympse is coordination, and this allows you to coordinate via text and location all within the same interface, rather than switch back and forth between apps.
Since Verizon hasn’t launched the new features yet, I’ll reserve final judgment. But it does look like the carrier is doing some interesting things with its new messaging tool. Messages launched back in March as a cross-platform texting app, recreating the phone’s SMS client on PCs and tablets.
That version didn’t add any extra communications tools to the normal SMS/MMS feature set and worked out of the phone’s regular messaging client. This new version of Messages, however, will require customers to download a smartphone app to access enhanced content. Basically it’s Verizon’s version of an OTT app tied to its customers’ phone numbers and its own messaging infrastructure.
What else will come with the new app? Verizon spokesman David Samberg shared a few more details with me over the phone: Messages will have the ability to record audio messages, which recipients can play back, as well as new postcard and collage picture message formats. Customers will also be add to captions to and draw digital sketches over their photo messages, Samberg said.