I’m not a fan of text messaging as a primary form of communication. Sure, there are situations where it’s preferable to a phone call, but watching people endlessly tappity-tap-tapping out texts in a messaging trance makes me queasy. So I tend to shy away from the medium, lest I become one of them.
Because of this bias, I’ve opted not to pay for an additional messaging plan, choosing instead to take my per-message lumps whenever a friend texts instead of calling or sending email. But this can add up quickly.
But now I don’t pay extra for bulk messaging or even per-use fees. ‘Cause I use Google Voice [App Store Link] for my iPhone text messages – and it’s free.
One of the lesser-known features of Google Voice on the iPhone – and other handsets as well – is Google-powered text messaging. Outgoing text messages using the Google Voice app, as well as incoming texts sent to your Google Voice number, go through their servers, bypassing your wireless carrier’s system and their ridiculous fees (word for word, text messaging may be the most expensive method of communication ever used by man).
Here’s how it works.
In Google Voice on the iPhone, enter a number, then tap the green Text button (you can also text using existing contacts); this starts a text message conversation. Reply messages will appear in a blue notification window in iOS, allowing you to quickly view the response or reply yourself, even if the Google Voice app is closed. And as long as users text your Google Voice number instead of your native iPhone number, you’re good, too. Incoming messages still show up in a notification window.
One thing you’ll need to do is go into the app’s Settings menu (under This phone’s settings) and turn off forwarding of Google Voice text messages to your iPhone’s built-in texting app; leaving this option on leads to the same carrier charges as traditional text messages. This option is on by default.
If you’re like me and aren’t much of a texter, but have friends and/or colleagues who text like there’s no tomorrow, give them your Google Voice number even if you don’t normally use it; when they send you text messages, they’ll all be free. And, of course, if you give out your Google Voice number as a matter of course, they’ll all come through the Google service rather than AT&T or Verizon.
Have other free text messaging suggestions? Share them in the comments section.
M. Nichols, Products Editor