Group text messaging can get confusing, especially if one person in your group falls behind in responding to the string of texts. Microsoft hopes to eliminate that confusion (and more) with a new app.
Dubbed Tossup, the app lets you -- and your friends, family, or coworkers -- organize plans together. Microsoft Garage developed the app, which aims to help you make decisions more easily even when you -- or your friends, family or coworkers -- are on the run. The app is available for iPhone and Android devices in the U.S. and Canada. Windows Phone can’t run it, at least not yet.
“Tossup removes the friction around planning,” said Jennifer Shen, the principal program manager lead whose team built the Tossup app. “It’s really about connecting with people, removing barriers that cause plans to fall through. Our aim is for you to spend more time hanging out with friends rather than coordinating schedules.”
Hurry Up and Decide!
Microsoft described Tossup as an app that aims to advance its mission of helping people achieve more in life and work. Redmond explained that Tossup helps groups plan and make decisions by letting them vote and suggest choices.
“Everyone has been through the tedious experience of planning a get-together which results in long e-mail threads or text messages that go on and on without any resolution,” said Ashok Kuppusamy, a Microsoft group program manager whose team is focused on building mobile apps. “We’ve built an app that helps people in these everyday scenarios.”
Sounds like a neat concept, but how does it work practically? Tossup can help you make decisions about the timing of an event, everyone in the group’s availability, what exactly members want to do, as well as the venues and spending limits. Tossup works in conjunction with Bing to find restaurants, along with opening hours, addresses and reviews, so everyone can agree where to eat.
If you need answers sooner rather than later, you can add a countdown clock to encourage folks to respond in a timely manner. Right from the app, you can also save the event to the calendar on your phone so it is set in digital stone.
Customization in Mind
Early adopters at the University of Washington in Seattle and Santa Clara University in California -- as well as Microsoft employees, their friends and families -- have already put Tossup to the test. Microsoft said it’s incorporated all that feedback, including building a calendar view and day picker, to make it easier to use.
Shen said her favorite part of Tossup is the customization. For example, the app gives you the option of uploading your own photos and creating your own questions. She said her team uses the app every day. In fact, they recently used it to vote on their next team outing. They all agreed to watch robots battle each other as a kickoff to the weekend.
“Tossup is just the beginning,” said Kuppusamy. “The team is looking forward to evolving the app and releasing other apps designed to help people communicate in new ways. We love the challenge of having to earn every user, and you have to do that by making experiences they love to use.”