Austin-based startup Callvine has released Group Call & Text for iPhone, an iOS 4-optimized app that combines group texting and calling in a single user interface, letting you text more than 100 people at once using the iPhone's native SMS capabilities, or call up to 50 people simultaneously with the touch of a button.
The app's group text feature lets you save and manage large groups of text recipients, and has a one-touch texting option for pre-defined groups. Since it uses your iPhone's native SMS capabilities, no registration or sign-up is needed to use the mass texting feature. It's also free to use, though standard AT&T text message rates will apply according to your service plan.
The group call feature lets you organize group calls with up to 50 simultaneous callers. You can also ring multiple numbers at a time for a single contact, and automatically connect to whichever phone they pick up first. When you're hosting a group call, the app provides a dashboard that displays all participants, shows you who is currently talking, and gives you the ability to mute or disconnect individual callers.
Group calls of up to 20 people via Callvine are free for up to ten minutes—though standard AT&T voice rates will apply. For group calls longer than ten minutes, or with more than 20 callers, Callvine offers pay-as-you-go bundles of 60 minutes that cost $6 and can be purchased through your iTunes account.
One Callvine minute lets you talk to five people at once—for each additional group of up to five simultaneous callers, another Callvine minute is charged per each minute of call time, until you reach the maximum of 50 callers. For example, if I made a 12-minute call to eight people, I'd be charged four Callvine minutes (remember, the first ten minutes are free). From now until September 7, Callvine is offering a launch-time promotion of one hour of free call time.
Group Call & Text is a free app and is compatible with iOS 3.1.3 or later.