I have never been much of a texter because I’ve always had a pretty crumby phone. I always had plans to upgrade to a smartphone when I could afford one. However, when my girlfriend put my phone through the washer I had to use my upgrade on a replacement phone. I was finally able to upgrade to an iPhone and consequentially my text messages began to rise out of the limits that my basic plan provides (200 total: in and out). For another $10 a month I could add 1300 more messages, but I knew I wouldn’t use all of them and I didn’t want to give more money to my cell phone provider for a service that costs them virtually nothing. Then I realized I could use Google Voice to help with this dilemma. I signed up for it a long time ago and only really used my invite for the vanity number. I could be using it to send free text messages straight from my phone.
Google Voice was rejected from Apple’s Appstore a while ago, and its rejection caused retroactive rejections to similar, but less popular apps. This really didn’t accomplish much since Google just converted the app into a website custom designed for the iPhone. It contains virtually the same features, but instead of being an app on your iPhone you have to navigate to the website. This really isn’t a big difference as you might think. You can bookmark the page and add the bookmark to your home screen. In fact, this approach might be considered better since the app isn’t taking up valuable hard drive space from the phone.
When you sign up for Google Voice you get to choose your own vanity number for free. You can search the available numbers for the vanity number of your choice. After you have your number, import your contacts from your gmail account or add them manually. Any text you send from the Google Voice website is absolutely free. Now that you’re set up, you want to notify all of your friends to text message you at your new number instead. You can set up Google Voice to forward the text messages to your cell phone, which wouldn’t free up any incoming text messaging rates. Alternatively, you can have the messages forwarded to an e-mail address. One thing that you might not be aware of is that every cell phone has an e-mail address in which they can receive text messages. So when that text message gets forwarded to your e-mail, you can reply directly back to your friend through e-mail since his cell phone has an e-mail address. By using Google Voice to forward text messages to e-mail, you don’t have to pay a single dime to send or receive text messages. Cut that $15 or $20 a month charge from your phone bill, and use Google Voice to send text messages for free.
Google Voice has a tons of other nifty features that don’t fall into the scope of this post but you can learn about them here: http://www.google.com/googlevoice/about.html
Google Voice is currently invite only, but I got approved in about a week. I have one invite left and I’m giving it away to the first person who indicates they want one in the comments section.
Photo Credit: Nesster