Free alternatives to SMS

Posted: February 19, 2012 in All Categories, Apps, Tech Society
Tags: , ,

Do you use your mobile phone more for calling or texting? If it’s the second option, you’re probably grumpy about the cap of 200 SMSes a day imposed by the telecom regulator. Of course, a big SMS bill doesn’t help. Yes, you can opt for the special SMS package, which is offered by most service providers and one that lets you send messages at a lower rate. However, this special offer is confined to a small number of people.

So, what’s the way around this dilemma? You can get past both budgetary and regulatory restrictions by moving from conventional text messaging, which is billed to the operator, to applications and services that are either provided by third parties or mobile phone manufacturers. Many of them let you send text messages, files, photos and videos to your heart’s content, as long as you can access the internet on your handset. Most of the apps come at no extra cost. You only need to pay for the data used in sending and receiving messages, which usually works out to be much cheaper than conventional texting. Here are some such options.

BlackBerry Messenger

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0ne of the smoothest messaging services, BBM is incorporated into the BlackBerry handsets. Users can send (and receive) an unlimited number of messages, pictures, even files. You can add people to your contact list through their PINs (a distinct number that comes with with BBM).

WhatsApp

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While there is no doubting the efficiency of services like BBM and iMessage, the fact that you need to invest in expensive handsets limits their utility. This is where a service like WhatsApp comes in handy. Just install the app on your mobile phone and exchange messages and pictures.

It works across platforms, and though it is separate from your regular messaging app, it scans your contacts and automatically includes other WhatsApp users in your contact list, saving you the trouble of sending out invites. However, it is not free for all platforms. While you don’t have to pay for Symbian, it costs about Rs 52 for an iPhone.

The appy edge

Messaging apps do not charge per message or require a special plan. They work fine with your standard GPRS/ EDGE connection. If your network is erratic, you can switch to Wi-Fi.

Most messaging apps let you swap videos and photos, some even let you send files, without incurring any extra cost or requiring any special service activation.

When you use a messaging app, you only pay for the internet data used, which is generally a small amount. This is particularly handy if you want to send messages to people in other countries. It’s the best option if you travel frequently as most service providers don’t charge for roaming for GPRS/EDGE on post-paid connections. So you can text away without worrying about the bill.

iMessage

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iMessage arrived on the iPad and iPhone via the latest version of iOS (iOS 5) and the service, which is free of cost, has become a rage. What sets it apart from other services is that if the person to whom you are sending a message has either of the above two devices, it converts it from an SMS to an iMessage.

Nimbuzz

Nimbuzz combines several instant messaging (IM) clients, so you can exchange messages, photos and videos with your friends across a number of IM services, such as Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, even Facebook Chat. You can even use it from a computer and make free phone/video calls to other users.

Twitter

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and off course Yes, this is a social networking site rather than a messaging service, but it allows you to swap messages, pictures and links with all your followers. You don’t need to install an additional program on your device and can access Twitter from a computer too. Its restriction to 140 characters may be a blessing or a bane.

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