As you may already know, the “evil” telecom companies want to squeeze every cent they can out of you by making up fees. SMS or Short Message Service is what is usually described as texting by your carrier. In the last decade before the explosion of smartphone, SMS used to fill a gap where there was little to no connection to the Internet. SMS functioned though SMS centers hence requiring its own infrastructure.
Nowadays, this is completely irrelevant as most smartphones typically use standard mail protocols such as SMTP over TCP/IP. Meaning, if you have a smartphone, it is very likely you are being charged for something that should be covered by your data plan alone. Of course, I am not familiar with pricing from all cell phone companies; however, if you are on a “bundle” plan and texting is part of it, most likely they are just getting a bundle of money from you. Otherwise, if it is clearly spelled out as a separate fee, you might want to consider just not paying for it and using alternatives that require your data plan alone.
There are several apps out there, each one with its limitations, but with more features than SMS. So far, Kik is my favorite cross platform messaging app as it is free and it is available for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and WP7. The makers of Kik are currently being sued by RIM, the maker of BlackBerry Messenger, alleging Kik uses their notifications system for Delivered and Read messages. This feature is not available on SMS. BBM is a superior app as it provides several other features but it is only available for BlackBerries. GroupMe and Whatsapp are good ones too but they use your phone number as your ID and that might be inconvenient if you switch SIM Cards when traveling abroad or for other purposes. GroupMe also requires you to have SMS for activation so make sure you have not canceled SMS before setting it up.
Most platforms have apps for all popular IM clients such as AIM, Facebook Chat, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, Gtalk, etc. However, the obvious disadvantage is that they require you to be logged in to be able to receive messages. But, you will be able to text with people running it on their smartphones or computers. Of course, all of these apps have a couple of issues to overcome even though they provide more features than SMS will ever do. SMS is already installed on your phone and it is the only way to text people with Jitterbugs. So, tell your friends, tell your wife, that they all need to upgrade!
© 2011 Christian Rios
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