Android comes with a fairly powerful group tool that allows you to group contacts together, but there are a few shortcomings with that built-in feature. Thankfully, plenty of tools are available on the Google Play Store that overcome those shortcomings. One such app, called Groupy, is actually a contact manager that focuses on empowering your contacts with groups. This is a solid app that includes the following features:
- Google sync
- Group ringtone
- Easily mail, text, or SMS/MMS groups
- Voice search
- Sort by last name
- Multiple account support
- Speed dial by gesture
- Home screen shortcut for groups and contacts
- Input name by contact while group texting
Two of the best features of Groupy happen to be features not found in the built-in Android groups tool:
- Group ringtone
- Home screen shortcuts
This app could be a real boon for busy business professionals who need to quickly communicate with a group of staff (or when you want to know if an incoming call is from a group).
Installing Groupy is fairly simple. There are two versions: free and paid, the latter which costs $1.49 (USD) and simply removes the ads (there are no added features). Let's install the free version (you can decide later if you wish to purchase the paid version). Here's how to install Groupy:
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
- Search for Groupy
- Locate and tap the Free Groupy entry by kigate team
- Tap Install
- Read the permissions listing
- If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
Once the installation is complete, you'll find the Groupy launcher on the home screen (or within the app drawer — or both).
Before you launch Groupy, understand that it does a great job of managing pre-existing groups. You can also create new groups. What this app can't do is add members to groups by itself. Instead, you have to manually edit each contact and assign it to a group. This is quite simple. Let me demonstrate with the following example:
- Open the Contact app (on the Verizon-branded HTC M8, it's called People)
- Locate the contact to be edited and tap to open
- Tap the menu button (three vertical dots in the upper right corner)
- Tap Edit contact
- Click the Tap to select group button (Figure A)
- Locate the desired group and tap the checkbox
- Tap OK
Adding a contact to a group is done through the built-in Contact app.
Continue adding contacts to a group until said group is complete. Now, let's turn to Groupy.
When you open Groupy, you'll see all the groups previously defined by yourself or other apps (Figure B).
You can see the advertisement just above All Contacts.
If you open a group, you'll see the contacts within the group. As I previously explained, you can't add an existing contact to a group. You can, however, add a new contact to a group. From within one of the groups (Figure C), tap the menu button in the bottom right corner (three vertical dots) and then tap New contact.
An empty group waiting for new contacts to be added.
You can also open individual contacts within Groupy. Go back to the Groupy main window and tap All Contacts. From here, you can search for a contact, open it, and edit it (to add it to groups).
Home screen shortcuts
Let's create a home screen shortcut for a group. This is possibly the best feature of Groupy — immediate access to a group (where you can send a group message or email). Follow these steps to create a shortcut for a group:
- From the main Groupy window, locate the group in question
- Long-press the group
- From the pop-up, select Create shortcut
- Select an icon style for the shortcut
That's it. You should now see a launcher on your home screen for the group. When you tap that launcher, it will bring up the group in Groupy. All you have to do now is select the members you want to send either an email or text to, and then tap either the email or text icon (Figure D).
Selecting members of the group to message.
Ringtones in Groupy
It's also easy to assign a specific ringtone for a group. From the main Groupy window, locate the group, and tap the associated check box. Now, tap the ringtone button (the music note). By default, all contacts within the group will be checked (however, you can uncheck specific members of the group to not assign the ringtone to those contacts). Tap the Select ringtone button. You can either select a Basic ringtone (built-in Android ringtones) or a Groupy ringtone.
The Groupy ringtones are music files found in /storage/emulated/0/Groupy/ringtone (the exactly location may vary, depending on your device). If you want to use a specific (non built-in) ringtone, copy the music file into that directory before you attempt to assign it. Once the file is there, go back to the ringtone assigning process and do the following:
- Tap Select ringtone
- Tap Groupy ringtone
- Select the desired ringtone from the list of available sounds
- Tap Confirm
If you add a new contact to the group after you've assigned a ringtone to that group, you'll have to go back and manually assign the ringtone to that contact (through the same process as described above).
Groupy is a great addition to the built-in Android group system. I would like to see Android include some of Groupy's features into the default group functionality on the platform, particularly the ability to add direct message launchers on the home screen for groups.
What other group management features would you like to see built in to the Android platform? Let us know in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.