Some mobile carriers charge up to $30 a month for unlimited texting plans. As much as I love texting, I can't imagine forking over that much cash. Especially when there are a variety of apps (which are free to download and work on both Android and iPhone) that allow you to text — and much more — for free! Be aware that some of these apps are chock-full of ads. But looking at a couple of ads is not such a steep price to pay, especially when I can send out unlimited "OMGs" and "LOLs."
textPlus is a cool free app that assigns you a phone number when you sign up, which you will then use to send and receive your free and unlimited texts. If you don't like the number you are given, you can select a different one for free — but only once. I love this app because it also allows you to chat and send picture messages. You can also call other textPlus members for free or even use your phone like a walkie talkie! And these features don't just work on a phone. You can use an iPod touch, iPad or similar device instead! Just be sure to use W-Fi when possible. textPlus will use your cellular data plan otherwise, which can equal hefty overage charges if you aren't careful. The only thing I didn't like about this app was all of the ads.
imo doesn't just allow you to text, you can send videos, voice messages, photos and emoticons — all for free! It also allows you to send messages to your family and friends via instant message networks like Google, Skype, AIM and Facebook Chat (when you first sign up, you have to enter all of the usernames and passwords for each of your networking accounts, but that should only take a few minutes). You can use all of these features without using any of your plan minutes — which is awesome in my book.
GroupMe (for iPhone or Android) is great if you like to send mass texts. With just a few clicks, you can let everyone know where you are meeting up Friday night. The setup process is simple; you just have to enter the phone number and name that you want associated with your account. After that you can split up your contacts (using their phone numbers and names) into groups. For example, you can create a "Friend" group and "Family" group so you don't accidentally send your mom a text saying, "OMG! I so need a drink after work tonight!" Although you can easily send group messages, there is also a direct feature option that allows you to text just one person at a time. GroupMe doesn't require any sort of texting plan, but it does use your data service, so be sure to keep track of your usage!
4. KaKao Talk
You use your own phone number to text and call at any time for free with KaKao Talk (although you do need to have a 3G or Wi-Fi connection to use it). You don't have to register for a username when you sign up – just provide the phone number and name you want associated with the account. This app is fun — it offers funny voice filters that you can use during your phone calls, a walkie-talkie setting, animated emoticons and group chat functions. You can also send videos and photos. Another unique function: you get rewards like free videos and songs by adding celebrities and artists to your friends list. The only thing that I dislike about this app is that you can only contact people who are already users of Kakao Talk. So be sure to have your friends download the app, too!
With WeChat, you can text, video call and voice message for free. You must provide your phone number and name when signing up. This app also provides a "shake" feature that allows you to share information like your contacts and photos with friends. There is even a feature that scans your surroundings to see if any other WeChat users are close by (use this with caution — think twice before contacting someone you don't know personally). As with some of the other apps, you can only contact friends who also have the app downloaded. One of the best things about this app is that the design is simple, and there are no ads to accidentally click on — not that I do that kind of thing…very often.