Tuesday, September 6, 2011

5 free alternatives to texting

CNET - Short messaging services (SMS) are very popular, but can end up costing you a lot if you don’t have an unlimited plan for your smartphone. All the apps in this collection offer more features than standard SMS clients, and can often be more fun to use. For instance, some send pictures, show you when a message is read by the recipient, or send videos and voice clips. There’s even an app that lets people without smartphones reply to you from a user-selected phone number.



Kik is a simple yet functional messenger app. No other service can match it for speed. Single-letter notifications on chat bubbles show you when the message is being sent (S), is available on the recipient’s device (D, for delivered), and has been read (R). It’s supported on several platforms, making staying in touch with people who have different phones and carriers easy. The only flaw is that while you can enable or disable notifications of messages, you are unable to set a custom notification tone for this app.

(Credit: Nicole Cozma)

Google Voice

Google Voice is an interesting choice compared with the other apps shown here. It lacks many of the defining features of the others, such as the capability to share pictures. However, it is powerful in its own right. Google Voice can actually send and receive SMS messages via data by assigning you a Google Voice phone number to use with the app. This means you can use this service to stay in contact with friends who don’t have smartphones, without being charged for SMS. There is also a Web management interface available, should you find yourself unable to use your mobile device.

(Credit: Nicole Cozma)