One of our favorite free texting apps, Text Free, has released a number of enhancements recently. Some of those enhancements include adding a real phone number to your account, so even iPod users have a phone number that anyone can text to. In the latest announcement, Pinger will be adding VOIP services to their popular texting app later this summer to compete with the likes of Skype, iCall, FriendCaller and others. These features are free via the current ad-supported version or if you want to turn-off the ads it will cost you $5.99 in an in-app purchase (1 year).
Full PR below:
New Textfree with Voice Offers Unlimited, Ad-supported Texting and Calling, Saving iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad Users Hundreds Per Year
Pinger Leads the Ad-supported Mobile Communications Industry, Offering Free Mainstream Communication Services via Smartphone Applications
SAN JOSE, CA — June 03, 2010 — Pinger, the popular developer of communications services for smartphone platforms, today announced Textfree with Voice, the first application-based communication suite for smartphones with free phone numbers for texting and calling functions. The current version of Textfree, version 3.4, is the leading texting app in the iTunes App Store. Textfree with Voice, available later this summer, includes free voice services over 3G and WiFi. The new service will drastically alter traditional fee structures for mobile phones by monetizing text and voice traffic with advertising.
“Smartphones are rapidly becoming the norm for mobile consumers, but they are tied to an antiquated billing framework,” said Greg Woock, Pinger CEO and co-founder. “Our ultimate goal is to offer free calling and texting to the four billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide.”
Traditional carriers charge mobile consumers hundreds of dollars per year for texting plans alone. Unlimited messaging plans for individuals can cost as much as $240 a year, while unlimited family messaging plans cost up to $360 per year. Textfree with Voice combines real phone numbers for messaging and calling via data channels, resulting in consumer savings of hundreds of dollars per year on texting and voice charges. Pinger plans to offer Textfree with Voice directly to its 20 million iPhone OS customers.
Pinger makes Textfree with Voice free to consumers by offsetting costs with mobile advertising. Already profitable, Pinger is in partnership with leading mobile advertising networks including Google, Admob, Quattro Wireless, and Millennial Media, and plans to fully support Apple’s recently announced iAd platform.
“Once communication services unshackle from their analog roots, they will be free,” said Joe Sipher, Pinger Chief Product and Marketing Officer. “Free happened with email and IM, and Pinger will make it happen with texting and calling. The hard part was figuring out how to monetize the free services. We’ve done that with our unique advertising model.”
Textfree with Voice will also revolutionize connected devices like iPod touch and iPad. These devices access the Internet through nearly ubiquitous WiFi connections and can route text and voice traffic directly to Pinger. This means consumers can have free, rich texting and voice services without a relationship or contract with traditional mobile carriers.
Pinger makes good things for mobile phones that have been downloaded by over 20 million iPhone OS users. Pinger is loaded with inventive people who enjoy creating consumer products and services that make a difference in people’s lives. www.pinger.com.
Touted as the Blackberry Messenger for iPhone, Ping! promises to deliver instant messages to all of your friends using the app on either iPhone or iPod Touch. We’ve been using Ping! now for a little while and found it to be similar to textfree unlimited, which we use extensively here at AppChatter.com. However, these apps are not the same and do serve slightly different niches.
Unlike Ping!, Textfree Unlimited allows you to actually send a text message (SMS) to any phone number. Ping! requires that anyone you send a message to also has the Ping! app installed – there’s no sending messages to phone numbers here. However, similarly to Textfree, you do setup a Ping! “ID” that you then share with all of your other Ping! using friends. They use the ID that you registered to send you messages, as many as they like.
Ping! supports push notifications and runs on both iPhone and iPod Touch. In our time of using it the app was mostly reliable in sending and receiving messages. What I mean by that is, not all messages that we sent were subsequently received by the other device. Sending to an iPhone seemed to be more reliable than sending to an iPod.
The interface of Ping! is superb! In fact, I prefer the interface to that of Textfree or some of the other texting apps that we’ve used here. It’s simple, and unlike Textfree I don’t confuse it with the actual iPhone texting app (yes, I’ve done that a few times actually).
I’m rather luke-warm on Ping! I’m not sure if the app is worthy of a full AppChatter recommendation or if we shout shun it altogether! As a simple messaging app I believe it could work really well, providing it gets more reliable. The price is right at $0.99 and the interface works well. So for now I’ll leave it in your hands, if you’re looking for a texting app for friends then it’s probably worth a try. If you’re looking to send real SMS then this app is not for you (doesn’t support it).
The day has finally come that push notifications are available for iPhone and iPod Touch with the new firmware 3.0 update. This capability is one that many iPhone/iPod Touch users have been anticipating for some time now. It will enhance the usefulness and function of many apps. One app in particular caught my interest. So, I took a look at exactly how Textfree Unlimited will work with this new function.
The addition of push notifications to Textfree Unlimited allows you to receive a notification when you receive a text using the app. When you open up your Textfree app, it will ask you if you want to allow push notifications (the most recent update is required). If you tap “OK,” they should be enabled. Now, when someone texts you to your textfree.us account you will receive a notification. This is regardless if the app is running or not or if your device is locked or not. It works much like getting a text message on an iPhone.
The notifications come in three different ways, the alerts or pop-up windows, sounds, and badges seen as a number in the upper corner of the app icon on your screen. In the Settings app on your device you can choose to turn any one of these on or off at any time.
I tested this app sending and receiving texts first with my iPod Touch on when the app was closed. Next, I tried locking my iPod. The push notifications still came through (very cool). [Update: Push notifications on an iPod Touch will only work when the iPod is locked if it is connected to a power source (either your PC or charger), it will not work otherwise. Thanks to Brick for the comment.] With the new addition of push notifications, the need to pay for the ability to text is near zero. The only limit now is the range of your Wi-Fi network.
Testing push notifications on an iPhone was near identical to the iPod Touch tests but with two exceptions: no need to be connected via WiFi (obviously) AND push notifications work whether the iPhone is locked or not.
If you’re looking for an alternative to text messaging that AT&T’s plans, or you have an iPod Touch, the introduction of push notifications makes Textfree a whoooole lot better.
Textfree Unlimited is $5.99 in the iTunes App Store.
Textfree Unlimited is not the only app to take advantage of this new capability, though. Other apps that make use of push notifications include AreMySitesUp (Free), Tap Tap Revenge (Free), Star Defense ($5.99), Pollen (Push) (Free), Weather Alert ($0.99), AP Mobile (Free), Leaf Trombone ($0.99), E*Trade Mobile Pro (Free), and Hey Where Are You (Free). Many more apps are coming that will support this functionality, keep checking back for more updates.
For more OS 3.0 information check out: iPhone OS 3.0 is here. Where to Start and Changes to check out
[Update 6/18: After you've read this review on Textfree Unlimited check out our Tour of Push Notifications using Textfree Unlimited.]
Like all of you Infinite SMS lovers out there, I was sad to see Google shut it down this week. When I heard the news, I started searching for another app that I could use to send free texts using my iPod Touch. Much to my dismay, most of the apps that I found in the iTunes App Store that claimed to offer this capability were only one or two star apps. I didn’t want to mess with something that was only going to work some of the time or have quirks that I would have to deal with constantly. Then, I stumbled upon Textfree Unlimited. With a 3 1/2 star rating in the App Store, I figured it was probably my best bet, but a little on the expensive side. Then I discovered the Lite version. After speaking with a representative from Pinger Inc., I found that the two versions have only a couple differences. She told me that Textfree Lite, “… works exactly the same as the Textfree Unlimited app, just that it has a 15-message limit per calendar day, and it has ads. Otherwise, it works exactly the same.” So, I gave the Lite version a try and wasn’t disappointed.
Textfree is easy to setup and get texting with. The first thing you do when you launch the app is set up a nickname for yourself. Then, you are ready to go. Tap on the icon in the upper right hand side of the screen to start a text. Enter in a mobile number and type your message. Sending a text through the app and the replies that you get back are free. Now, what happens if someone else initiates the text? If someone from another mobile number texts you, it does carry the normal charges for you. However, there are a few settings that you can change under the options menu to change that.
Under options you can turn on email notification, which allows the app to send you an email notification when you receive a text after you have closed the app. Simply enter in the email address that comes to your iPhone or iPod Touch. Then, make sure you turn on the new email sound on your device. The app will then send you a confirmation email with a link that you must click on. Also, in the options menu, you can turn on the textfree to textfree capability. When you flip the switch to on, the app will ask for the phone number associated with your iPhone. The app will then send a text (this one will have normal charges) with a confirmation code that you must enter into the app to confirm your phone number. Unfortunately, the need for a phone number rules out the textfree to textfree option for iPod Touch users. Once this option is turned on, you can send texts to and receive texts from other textfree users free of charge. The only problem with this setup is that if you get a text when the app is closed, the only way you will get notified of the text is through your email. In all fairness, this problem only exists because it is not yet possible to rectify it. Apple does not allow apps to notify you of anything when they are not open. The good news is that the emails that you receive to notify you of a text contain an link that you can tap on to automatically launch the app and pull up the text.
There are a couple more things to be aware of in using this app. First and most important, is that the main difference between the two versions of Textfree is that the Lite version only allows you to send 15 texts per day. The paid version allows you to send an unlimited number of texts. Second, right now you cannot use the app in landscape mode. Thus, you have to use the smaller keyboard, but that is not a big deal. Third, as with all other texting apps, iPod Touch users must be on a Wi-Fi network to send or receive any texts.
If you are looking for a good app for free texting, Textfree seems to fit the bill. It is quick and easy to use. Textfree Unlimited is a little on the pricey side, but probably a must have for those who text a lot.
Textfree Lite is free.
Developer Website (Textfree Support): http://www.pinger.com