We fell in love with GroupMe at CES, but at that point the app itself was sort of secondary to the whole experience; you used it once to set up your group, and from then all the magic happened via SMS. No more! Today, the free GroupMe apps for iOS and Android both got huge updates, putting the app itself front and centre to the group chat melee.
First and foremost, the default messaging option is now free "push" messages that get piped in over your data connection, resulting in chat that's both quicker and cheaper than SMS. Switching between the two modes couldn't be easier, and the feature phone set can still get involved just by texting the group's unique phone number. Anyhow, the new push messages are accessed in the app itself, where you can now add images directly into the conversation thread and share your location with your group on an interactive map.
The update also brings improved Foursquare integration and contact syncing with Twitter, Facebook and email, all amounting to an admirably thorough overhaul of the GroupMe experience. Bravo! Now get to bugging your friends. [ITunes, Android via GroupMe]