Review: Contrast Group Text+ and Email+
I’ve been a fan of Contrast’s apps for awhile, notably Perfect Weather which was reviewed earlier this year, so I jumped at the chance to try out their latest offerings, Group Text+ and Email+, a pair of similarly-designed apps for automating text messaging and emails, respectively.
Priced at $1.99 (Group Text+ launch sale price) and $2.99 (Email+), or also in a $3.99 bundle, the two universal apps apps share the same simple interface—the first portion of the screen includes places for contacts or groups of contacts you message frequently, while the second portion of the screen features the ability to attach images. Finally, the third portion allows you to attach text automatically. Once you pick any of these, the app will then generate either a pre-populated text message, iMessage, or email using the standard system dialogue box.
Generating a Text or Email
The workflow for both of these apps is pretty simple: select the contacts you want to send the message to (or leave blank for the system to prompt you), select an image to attach, select some text, and tap the giant “Compose” button. Make any other changes to the message and send it on its way. Attaching images is simple—there is a button to use the camera, a button to search GIPHY for GIF files, or a carousel of the last few photos in your Camera Roll, followed by a “More…” button to bring up the standard photo browser. Text options include the current location (with Apple Maps URL), whatever is in the clipboard, the title and artist of the current song you’re listening to, or any sort of text snippet you can think of.
Thee apps integrate with iOS 8’s share sheets via extensions, and display a contact picker much like within the apps. This is actually pretty nice even if you’re not sending group texts or emails, since it’s quicker to tap a favorite contact than type the first few letters of a name. Because of this feature, Contrast made both apps iOS 8-only.
An edit button in the upper-right corner allows you to modify all of the aforementioned sections of the app. Contacts are large circles, depicted by any pictures you may have selected in your contact list, or the system default of a grey circle with initials. When in editing mode, red deletion circles appear near each image, and you can also drag to rearrange. A button is also at the end of the list to add more contacts.
The text portion can be reordered and the various default items can be turned off and on with switches located next to each item. This allows you to free up screen real-estate if you, say, never are going to share the current song with someone.
Some of this functionality is already included in the company’s more powerful product, Launch Center Pro. However, not everyone needs all of that functionality, so these two apps bring it to the masses in a slightly friendlier way, much like Contact Center. In fact, although the two apps are separate, Contrast intended for them to be a single entity:
You might be wondering why we created two separate apps. We actually planned to build a single app, but as we started working on it we quickly realized that doing both messaging and email in a single app added a lot of complexity, both to the UI and to the code. Separating the apps allowed us to deliver a focused experience that makes each app better on its own.
I think this makes some sense, as you can save a couple of bucks by skipping one that you might not use, rather than the waters being muddied by in-app purchases or “pro” features. This may also be so that each app can have its own share sheet icon. In some ways, Group Text+ is the spiritual successor to the recently-discontinued Fast Text by Casey Liss.
Overall, both apps are cheap enough to be impulse purchases, live up to Contrast’s elegant design style, and do their expected tasks extremely well. By taking advantage of many existing iOS features, these apps don’t demand you change your behaviors or tools, just add to them.
The One-Sentence Verdict™
Contrast managed to scale down some functionality from Launch Center Pro in Group Text+ and Email+, yet ended up creating convenient, simple tools.
Pros:Simple design, easily customizable, share sheet extension very useful
Cons: None significant