Microsoft launches Whos In, a social event planning app for iMessage

Microsofts name isnt exactly synonymous with social networking, though that hasnt stopped the company from finding angles into this space generally, with more of a focus on the business side of socializing, as with its LinkedIn and Yammer acquisitions. Its own efforts in social, meanwhile, have failed, as with last months shuttering of itssocial network for students, Socl.

Now the company is giving social another shot with a new iMessage app called Whos In, aimed at helping friends plan events and other outings, like movie dates, dinners out, visits to nearby attractions, and more.

The app, which just launched today on the iMessage App Store, does not have an iPhone or iPad version at this time it can only be accessed viaiMessage.

When you first launch the app, it asks you to select an activity: Eat and drink, Watch a movie, Visit an attraction, or Create your own.

After choosing one of the options, Whos In thenleverages Microsofts search engine Bing for its suggestions of things to do likearea restaurants or movie showtimes, for example. These appear after you consent to sharing your location with the app.

With a few more taps you enter theother details, like the event time, or in the case of a custom event the location, name, and a description.

The app will thecreate a custom card for yourevent, designed for texting, which includes a thumbnail image with the location and the time. The images the app uses are generic, however, as you can see in the above example. Thats disappointing in terms of the overall experience.

Recipients can tap on this card and then tap a thumbs up button to indicate theyre in or the thumbs down to indicate theyre out. (Hence the apps name.)

Whats also useful is that the app offers a way for the events organizer to enter in multiple dates/times, allowing Whos In to serve as a sort of group polling app.

This addresses one of the common struggles of organizing outings via iMessage theres often a lot of back and forth chatter about what time everyone wants to do the thing being discussed. With Whos In, you can instead send out the events card and collect votes.

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One funny thing to note about Whos In is that Google years ago launched its own social app aimed at getting friends together to hang out. Its name? Whos Down. That app was eventually shut down for lack of use.

That said, Microsoftsapp (also not to be confused with this indie app of the same name) seems like a handy addition for anyone who spends a lot of time in SMS and iMessage chats making plans with friends.

Unfortunately, with the way the app integrations in iMessage have been designed, its still overly cumbersome to find apps, anduse them after installation. This has led to slowing growth in the store, according to one third-party report, as well as complaints from developers and pundits alike about the iMessage stores design issues. These concerns are valid, and willlikely impact the adoption of Microsofts Whos In app, too.

We should note, too, that this is not Microsofts first entry into the iMessage App Store, nor even its first social app for iMessage.

The company already launched iMessage apps for OneDrive, Yammer, and Bing, plus a Halo stickers app, and a similarly focused event planning app, called #MovieDate. This latter app,as the name implies, is only for movies, and it has a dating focus.

Whos In is a free download for iPhone users.

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