txt 4 free plz
May 24, 2012 12:55 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I text each other a lot throughout the day - enough that I go over my one zillion text per month limit. An upgrade to the next level (unlimited) would be $30/month. What's the best, most seamless way to get free (or very low cost) texting? I only need it to work between the two of us; I can use regular texting for others.

We're both on Android, both on Verizon. I currently use GoSMS for regular texting. The more this acts like regular, built-in texting, the better.

Must also allow MMS (pic and video) messages, which I believe rules out Google Voice.
posted by SampleSize to Technology (39 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Would switching to iPhones be an option? I can't say it's the best, but it would certainly be the most seamless method I can think of.
posted by griphus at 12:56 PM on May 24, 2012

Also, is there a reason having an IM program -- I think I used eBuddy when I had an Android phone, but that was a while ago -- running at all times isn't an option?
posted by griphus at 12:57 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could you use imo, on top of any existing accounts you already have? (FB, Talk, etc.)
posted by jbickers at 1:02 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use Handcent for text messages, and I think the (optional) "Handcent Network" does this - I don't use it. Bonus: it supports cross-platform/network Emoji.
posted by kcm at 1:03 PM on May 24, 2012

Best answer: I use What's App.
posted by amro at 1:06 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 1:09 PM on May 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

(Sorry, should qualify that that requires you to have a data plan.)
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 1:10 PM on May 24, 2012

Well, you could use google voice for regular texts and whatever you've got on the verizon plan for MMS.

My ATT plan gives us texting between the family unlimitedly, is switching carriers an option?
posted by dpx.mfx at 1:10 PM on May 24, 2012

I came to say that all the cool kids are using What's App these days, but I see that amro and miss_kitty_fantastico have beaten me to it.
posted by Kreiger at 1:10 PM on May 24, 2012

Bear in mind that it uses your data allowance though, so keep an eye on your usage if you don't have an unlimited data plan.
posted by Kreiger at 1:11 PM on May 24, 2012

Try Google Voice for the Droid, or get each of you a (free) Skype acct and use the messaging capability within that.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 1:12 PM on May 24, 2012

Use the GoChat built into GoSMS? I'm pretty sure that it goes over the Data side of things, not the SMS.
posted by deezil at 1:17 PM on May 24, 2012

Response by poster: Nope, iPhone is not an option.

And I'd imagine running an IM app all the time would be kinda battery intensive.
posted by SampleSize at 1:18 PM on May 24, 2012

Oh, if you're heavily Google-centric, each of you sign up for Google Voice numbers and text back and forth through them. Bonus, you can keep the site open on your computer and respond from there too.
posted by deezil at 1:21 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

WhatsApp has push notification, so that solves your battery life issue. App doesn't have to run all the time.
posted by jbickers at 1:24 PM on May 24, 2012

I chat with my wife over Google Talk constantly and it doesn't use an appreciable amount of battery power. It doesn't do pictures but I imagine Whatsapp doesn't use tons of power either.

In general, apps don't eat battery in Android if you're not actively using them unless they are badly written. An app can be basically non-running except for a placeholder and you'll still get incoming messages.

Also, GoSMS has some kind of free text system called GoChat built in. Haven't looked into it myself but it might be worth investigating.
posted by selfnoise at 1:24 PM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Don't worry about your data plan. You could text until your hands bleed, and it wouldn't add up to an appreciable amount of data. One character is one byte, so you'd have to type a million characters to even rack up one megabyte. That's about four thousand pages.
posted by musofire at 1:30 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Spouse & I have Android phones, and we text continually thru the day with the Google Talk app. This is free and does not impact your phone carrier's text message plan. Data usage is minimal. Messages in the app arrive by "push" notifications and do not kill the battery in any noticeable fashion that I've seen.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 1:34 PM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Husband and I also use google talk on android phones. If we need to send pictures we use gmail to send the photo. I do wish that my phone had a better gchat widget (it has a nice little sms messages one), but i just put the talk app icon onto my main home screen & click through the message notifications in the notification drawer when a message comes in. I believe there are widgets I could download & add, but I don't miss one THAT much.
posted by lyra4 at 1:45 PM on May 24, 2012

My best friends and I use Facebook Messenger for this. Search in old conversations is pretty good and you can resume a conversation seamlessly in a web browser. You can attach images, include your location, and see a timestamp to know whether the other person has read your message. Works much better on my Android phone than Google Voice does.
posted by tantivy at 2:03 PM on May 24, 2012

Use GoSMS built-in direct message function. You could also use twitter, which has a direct message function.
posted by Picklegnome at 2:04 PM on May 24, 2012

Facebook Messenger doesn't act like built-in Android texting, but that's a feature for me, because I hate how that app works. However, I may be totally wrong about how Android works in general because my phone is by HTC, so it's heavily customized.
posted by tantivy at 2:04 PM on May 24, 2012

Sorry to reply yet again, but I doubt you want to use Twitter DMs. Twitter only lets users access the 100 most recent messages, and images are uploaded to an external service where they will be viewable by pretty much anyone via URL (if they go to your Twitter profile and look at "recent images"), which is nothing like how SMS works.
posted by tantivy at 2:06 PM on May 24, 2012

you can run texts though google voice.
posted by couchdive at 2:13 PM on May 24, 2012

I use whatsapp. Uses hardly any data, and is very user-friendly
posted by Petrot at 2:16 PM on May 24, 2012

If you both have Android, Google Talk is the way to go. I'm signed in all day with no appreciable different in battery usage. You also get conversation history in GMail too. Just use text plans for MMS.
posted by chundo at 2:38 PM on May 24, 2012

I came to recommend What's App, so i guess now i'm seconding it.

It's like blackberry messenger for people without blackberries. (ie free instant texting!) It's great, i use it on my Android phone.
posted by Kololo at 3:53 PM on May 24, 2012

How often do you actually send pictures/video? I use Google Voice for texts and email for pics/video. Both go over my data plan, so I don't even have a text messaging plan with Verizon, just voice and data.

Maybe if you do it super often this is annoying, IDK. Although really I don't understand why people use texts over email (which is like the same thing but without any size-chunking issues), but maybe I'm just old.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:55 PM on May 24, 2012

Kik. I use it to text my friend in Newfoundland (no international fees), and it's great!
posted by jenny76 at 5:27 PM on May 24, 2012

I don't use it often myself, but my friends swear by TextPlus. The app works both on iPhones and Android.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:46 PM on May 24, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Gonna try whatsapp first.
posted by SampleSize at 9:18 PM on May 24, 2012

Try Kakaotalk it is a pretty robust and quick messaging app. I've been pleased with its performance. Or if you're into celebrating your relationship there is between which is a one to one couples messaging app. Not as fluid for messaging though.
posted by andendau at 10:34 PM on May 24, 2012

andendau beat me to it. Kakaotalk is the program my wife's friend introduced her to, then she to me, then when my family back home finally got smart phones, I had them download it. Free (you can pay to get silly emoticons, but there's no need), and simple.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:20 AM on May 25, 2012

thirding kakaotalk.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:19 AM on May 25, 2012

Just use google talk? It doesn't take hardly any battery at all and it's already installed on your phone. Seriously.

If you can't do that, use google voice, which is also exceptionally easy. If you really want it to go through your GoSMS, you can grab the new "Google Voice Full Integration"

But if you want to have instant on, no lag conversations, just use google talk. It won't use any more battery than installing another app that will require a constant-on data connection. Your persistent screen-on is using more than anything else. If you're at work and near a pc, just get a usb cable and plug the silly thing in.
posted by TomMelee at 4:59 AM on May 25, 2012

Oops, there is also this new-ish app specifically for a connection to a single person. Check it out too. Pair.
posted by TomMelee at 5:01 AM on May 25, 2012

If both of you have android phones, I am assuming you have a data plan.
Why not simply email each other?
I personally hate text, the back and forth. Short messages, getting duplicates, overall texting was a great tool in 2001 with dumbphones, but email is seamless, and overall most of the time just as quick.
posted by handbanana at 6:31 AM on May 25, 2012

I have no idea why you wouldn't just use Google Talk.

The only reason to use anything else is if one of you had an iPhone, where Google Talk sucks. On Android, it's everything that text messages are and more, and it's free, and it does push notifications, and you can seamlessly switch between your phone and a computer, and doesn't appreciably shorten battery life, and ... you get the idea. Hell, on newer phones it even does video.

Nothing else that I've used comes close, unless you have to talk to people with iPhones, or dumbphones, or who aren't on GTalk. So you are basically the perfect use case for it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:21 PM on May 25, 2012

What about GoSMS's built-in GoChat option? Isn't that free?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:24 PM on May 28, 2012

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