Even before Google+&select=1 target=_blank style=text-decoration:none;cursor:hand;>Google or Facebook came up with their free SMS applications, there have been several others. Of course, the advantage of using a Facebook chat application (app) is that it is synchronised with your social site page and contacts. In case of Google, your gmail contacts and Google+ members are factored in.
The Facebook app is available for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry devices. It is free to download and makes use of the existing data plan (like all other apps) of the user. If the person to whom the message has been sent does not have a mobile app, he may see the message on his Facebook page.
A user can either get the app from fb.me/msgr, or even from the App store or Android Market place.
As we said, there are other apps that allow you to send free text messages and, in some cases, also make free VoIP calls.
Viber is a free app available on Android and iPhone. It is a service that allows you to not only send text messages, but also make calls for free. Indian users can operate this app.
Once downloaded on to your smartphone, the app will synchronise your phone book with contacts who are using the app. The app allows you to send messages and make calls across the globe. It uses 3G and WiFi to make free calls and send SMSes.
According to the company, it has 140 million users. Recently, the firm launched version 2.3, with new features, which include emoticons and stickers to spruce text and photo messages, and a new "send location" feature that allows users to share a location.
WhatsApp is one of the most popular free messaging apps in smartphones in India. One can send pictures, files and documents using this app. The best part is it can be used across handsets and OSes. It will work on Java-enabled phones, smartphones like iPhone, Android, Windows phone, and even BlackBerry.
Like Viper, once downloaded, the app automatically synchronises with phone book contacts also using the program. It is free for the first year, after which, it will cost $0.99 for the next year.
Created by Sabeer Bhatia of Hotmail fame, Jaxtr provides sms for free. One of the advantages of using it is you can send messages to a person who is not using the app. While one can send unlimited messages to a Jaxtr user, messages to a non-Jaxtr user can be sent at a low rate.
Still in a Beta phase, expect the app to go through some improvements. The app is available on all platforms, including Java.
Skebby, one of the oldest free SMS apps, gets the job done neatly.
As the company says, "It's like Skype, but for SMS." Available on your iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Nokia/Symbian.
The app lets you send free SMS to anyone who has it installed on their phone.
And, if your contacts don't have the app, you can SMS for a charge; the price you pay is less than what a mobile service will cost.
The app works with your phone number, and integrates with your phone book. You can even update your Facebook and Twitter status through a simple Skebby sms.