Flip Messenger (Internal project)
Built in-house, Flip is a group messaging and location sharing app created in 2012, during the mobile messenger boom of the early 2010s.
The key differentiator of Flip, compared to other messengers at the time, was its strong focus on group messaging (now a core feature in both whatsapp and Facebook Messenger), and real time location sharing (now built into iMessage and to a certain extent, whatsapp).
With social media sites hitting their stride in the early 2010s, people were looking for a way to keep in touch which was not as public as Facebook/Twitter, and not as private as email / txt messaging.
Group messengers like GroupMe were around to capture this market, though creating a group required a huge amount of set up. Flip differentiated by making group creation simple – first, by not requiring a login (a phone number was enough) and by making creating groups easy to set up as composing an email – and not requiring a subject, a photo, or multiple confirmation steps like GroupMe.
Real time location sharing was also added to groups (a world first – though this was later adopted by iMessage), which meant only other group members could see your location, and vice versa. For privacy, location sharing could also be turned on temporarily, e.g. 1 hour, 4 hours, etc, so users didn’t have to remember to turn it off manually.
The reason this was added was that it was common for groups to catch up with each other – and location sharing was an easy way to update everyone’s whereabouts. This removed the anxiety of how far away someone was, or if you were leaving too early somewhere.
It was also a great safety feature for parents with children, or to make it easy to find your friends on a road trip or music festival.
Groups also shared images with each other, and Flip seamlessly grouped all images for a group chat into a single screen. Again, another first which has since been adopted by both iMessage and whatsapp.