Social apps review: Apps for free text messaging
Cell plans across the globe vary hugely from carrier to carrier. In the UK, text messaging is usually free on contract plans, but often costly for pay-as-you-go users. In the States, meanwhile, both senders and receivers are charged for the privilege of exchanging 160 characters of info, or have to fork out around $30 a month for an unlimited plan. However, the rise of the smartphone has put pay to these unnecessary costs, with many free messaging apps offering additional perks such as video or voice messaging. Here are three of the best.
Bit of a controversial one, this, due to the company’s recent rap on the knuckles for breaching privacy laws. However, this does mean now’s the best time to get on board as it’ll be on its best behaviour, and ultimately, WhatsApp really does reign supreme among free messaging apps. There are no pin codes involved, no need to log in or out or make additional purchases beyond the initial 99 cent charge. Users can set a personal profile photo, enjoy group chat and send multimedia messages – video, images and voice notes – with ease.
Platform and developer: Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Windows (by WhatsApp Inc.)
Final word: Owing its popularity in part to its cross-platform functionality, WhatsApp dominates download boards across the globe, and with good reason. Just keep an eye on its terms and conditions!
Dubbed the ‘BBM of messaging for the non-BB crowd’, ChatON is Samsung’s recently re-launched messaging app offering a wealth of features. As well as the standard messaging and multimedia messaging fare, the app allows users to group chat, sync calendar information and contacts plus share content via a Facebook-esque wall and use its ‘Trunk’ feature for a spot of cloud sharing.
Platform and developer: Android, Blackberry, iPhone (by Samsung Electronics)
Final word: A fun app offering a variety of functions to rival desktop instant messaging. It’s a bit of a faff creating an account (only required once) and populating contact lists, but worth it for the long-term pay off.
Big in the business world, Google Voice offers a wealth of communication features via a user’s Google account, but is best known for its free messaging service. The app integrates seamlessly with iOS and Android phones (although more seamlessly with Android, obviously) and existing stock texting apps, it supports sending/receiving from email and syncs with Google on the web so messages can be viewed and responded to online.
Platform and developer: Android, Blackberry, iOS (by Google)
Final word: Brilliant for busy workers (and those wanting to covertly slack off in meetings). The only gripe is that Google will issue you with a phone number for sending and receiving messages, so make sure you sign off each text so your friends know who it’s come from.