Smartphones are great. They help you keep in touch with your loved ones and stay up to date on what's going on in the world. The problem is that like everything else that's useful, they cost money to use, and between calling, texting, and data plans, it can get really expensive.
There used to be a time when I was literally afraid to open a text message or even think about sending a picture to another friend in fear of using up the precious few my plan allowed.
But now, even though unlimited plans are pretty much nonexistent, there are so many ways to send thousands of SMS and MMS messages, and even talk over the phone for free or low costs.
The list of apps and services are endless, but here's a list of the best of the best, no matter what device you are using.
A company that has 1.6 billion active members is probably a good place to start the list. For the first time in the company's history, there are more people using the mobile version of Facebook on a daily basis than on their desktops or laptops. Over 126 million people, to be exact.
The reason why so many people use the Facebook Messenger app is because there are so many ways to make contact with friends and family. You can chat using the chat function, text via Messages, and now you can even leave voice messages and make phone calls via VoIP.
Think of the voice messages as short snippets of a real phone conversation. All you need is a wireless network or a data connection and you can talk to friends and even contacts that don't have a Facebook account. There is one minute limit, so make sure to keep your messages short and sweet.
To make phone calls, the person you're calling has to have the Messenger app installed. It only works on iPhone so far in U.S, but the Android app should have the functionality soon (it's already rolling out in the UK and other countries).
Skype was one of the first webcam applications that made a splash in the marketplace. Now, it's ubiquitous with webcams and video chatting on your computer. A few years ago, Skype made the move to mobile and now allows its massive user base to chat, video call, and send files all from their smartphones.
If you're looking to save some of those minutes on your cell phone plan, you can use Skype over WiFi (or 3G or 4G) to video call any of your contacts that have Skype as well. You can also send messages to your Skype contacts free of charge.
- Download Skype for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone
WhatsApp is probably one of the most popular messaging apps available. The app is available on any phone platform you can think of (and even on tablets, with a little hacking), which makes it so much better.
While Blackberry and iOS both have built in group messaging capabilities, both platforms make it exclusive to their operating systems.
If you want to create a group message on an iPhone and one friend has Samsung Galaxy S3, they won't able to take part in the conversation, and instead will receive individual messages from everyone in the group. With Whatsapp, you can message anyone on any platform FOR FREE.
Whatsapp uses the internet to send messages so you can avoid those SMS rates and fees. It's also great to make contact with international users. You can avoid the ridiculous SMS fees your carrier applies and contact them just as easily.
Google Voice is another great way to save money on your calls and texts.
You can set up a Google Voice account using your mobile number or create a new one.
Google Voice currently provides free PC-to-phone calling within North America and so much more. You can set up custom greetings for different callers and even have all of your phones (house, home, office) ring at the same time.
The service is still growing in use, but it is a great way to save money on calls and texts and take advantage of the many other features it has to offer.
Voxer is an app I wish I had around when I was a little kid. I used to always want a set of walkie-talkies for me and the rest of my friends to use during our outdoor adventures. Voxer utilizes the same function that made walkie-talkies so great.
It's a push-to-talk application that lets people send short voice messages, pictures, and texts all through the application. Just make sure your friends download the Voxer app. It's free and really fun to use.
text+ is another great application to send all sorts of messages to your friends and family. text+ will gather all of your contacts, along with those who are using the text+ application as well.
text+ promises free and unlimited calls and texts using your wireless or 3G network, which could save you some big money. The app will give you a new number, which you will use for all your text+ endeavors.
Now, if the person you are trying to contact does not have text+ they may not recognize your number, but you can always tell them to add the number to your contact information. The app works great, looks great, and really can help you save some money.
Be sure to check out all of these apps to see if they can't help you cut back on your monthly bills. There's nothing better than saving money. Know of any other tips for free calls and SMS? Let us know in the comments below.
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