Mobile messaging apps offer a number of advantages over traditional SMS messaging, one of them being the ease with which groups can organize things. In WhatsApp, for example, you can set up lots of different groups for different situations, be it to coordinate soccer games with your friends or make babysitting arrangements with parents in your neighborhood. And this has long expanded beyond simple text, with many messaging apps now catering to group video calls.

But Japanese messaging giant Line has unveiled a number of new features today that highlight the role messaging apps play as the “glue” in social circles.

With Ladder Shuffle, Line is making it easier for friends to figure out who in a group should be responsible for a specific task — for example, one person may be charged with bringing the poker chips to a game, while someone else may be responsible for bringing the beer.

A Ladder Shuffle can be created from within any chat, though not everyone has to be added to the ladder. Once you’ve selected your participants, (if there are more people than options, the extra options can be left as the default “X”),  Ladder Shuffle decides for you who’s doing what.


Above: Ladder Shuffle



Line has now also added a collaborative album feature called Relay Posts that lets friends add photos and videos to themed albums. There are already a number of existing online services that allow users to create shared albums, however bringing such functionality directly into an app like Line shows again the increasing role that messaging apps play in social groups.

Above: Relay Posts

A subsidiary of South Korea’s biggest web operator, Naver Corp, Line claims more than 220 million users for its WhatsApp-style messaging app, though the vast majority of those users are centralized in just a handful of markets — Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and Indonesia. Still, it’s interesting to observe the launch of new features elsewhere in the world, as it may hint at what’s to come for messaging apps elsewhere. Your move, WhatsApp…