MacMost Now 510: Free iPhone SMS Text Messaging Using Google Voice

Carriers charge a premium for text messaging bandwidth. But you can send and receive text messages for free using some apps. With a Google Voice account and the Google Voice app, you can send, receive and get notifications of incoming messages even when the app isn't running.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 510: Free iPhone SMS Text Messaging Using Google Voice.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode, lets look at free ways you can send and receive text messages on your IPhone. One of the things that bugs me about the IPhone or any smart phone, is how expensive the carrier make it to send and receive text messages. For instance, AT&T has a plan for five dollars you can send or receive 200 text messages. This translates to 163 dollars a meg. See a text message is at most 160 characters, and if you used every single one of those characters, and every one of your 200 text messages, it comes out to 163 dollars plus. Now to give you some perspective, if you were to download an HD movie from ITunes, I would be about 3 1/2 gigs. if you got charged the same amount for bandwidth for that download, as you did for text messaging, that movie would cost you 600,000 dollars. That's right and Verizon's text messaging plans aren't that much better. So what are some good alternatives to text messaging? Lets look at some free ones. Unfortunately there are some ways to send and receive text messages free. Now you can use some different apps, one app for instance you can use is skype which you can use for a lot of different things on your IPhone and you can actually send text messages with it. But to receive text messages, you can look at some other apps for instance, a really popular one is Fring that allows you to send and receive text messages. But the option that I like the best is using Google voice. So Google voice is a free service and the first thing you need is a Google account. In other words, your Gmail account which is free of course also. Once you have that you just go to and you can set up the voice part of your Google account. You can give it a area code, and than you can look for a phone number using a phrase or certain numbers that you want in it and it and it will give you some different options. And than once you have a number, now not only can you use google voice to make calls, but you can receive calls as well. And you can do it inside of the Gmail interface, on your Mac, but you can also do it using the Google app. Now Google Voice isn't a telephone service like Skype is. You actually still need to have a phone to make or receive phone calls. But you can use this universal google number and have it forward calls to your regular number, either your IPhone or your home phone and you can either make calls using either your home phone or your IPhone. It will basically connect you to the party you are trying to call.But you can also use it to send or receive text messages. So here's a look at the app and you can see that you've got an inbox and down below you've got an inbox for voice seperate from texts. and than you can send a text message, you can actually use the dialer to call a number and than hit text instead of voice, and send a message. And it works just like any other SMS type of application including the app that comes with your IPhone that you have to pay to use. But in addition to that you can also receive text messages to your Google Voice number and you'll get notifications when they appear so it's just like using the regular SMS app. You get a little notification, and you'll know that you've gotten a text message and you can go in and respond to it. So you have everything you need. you can send text messages from the Google Voice app using your Google voice number to anybody that you want. You can receive text messages as well and read them in the Google Voice app and you also get a notification even if the Google Voice app isn't running that a text message has come in. The only thing you need to do is get your friends to start using your new Google Voice number to send text messages instead of your old IPhone number. Now since Google Voice can actually forward phone calls from your Google Voice number to any phone number you want, it may be convenient to actually switch your number for all purposes to your Google Voice number. after all they do have other cool features like they send you an email when you get a message and try to transcribe the message as well so you can read it rather than listen to it. So it's kind of useful. So I hope you like this loo0k at an alternative to paying AT&T or Verizon for text messaging. Til the next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 12 Responses to “MacMost Now 510: Free iPhone SMS Text Messaging Using Google Voice”

    8 years ago

    Thanks, Gary. Good tip. I really wish I could shut off texting from AT&T, or only allow those on a whitelist to send. I got tons of text spam around the holidays.

    Scott Hather
    8 years ago

    Thats fine for US folks, but for the 5 billion of us outside the US, have a look at ‘Heywire’ iPhone app. Free SMS send/receive in just about any country (including the US)

    (Small island 3000 miles east of USA)

    hessel frings
    8 years ago

    Hi Gary,
    Thanks for this post. Google Voice is not available in Europe. So all this doesn’t work..
    What I use is Whatsapp . You can even include a picture or video and also connect to blackbery’s..
    bye! Hessel

    Luke Thomas
    8 years ago

    I didn’t know Google had that. Wow! You are so cool Gary!

    8 years ago

    Thanks Gary… I love it. Also, check out GrowlVoice. It’s notification for GoogleVoice on the Mac.

    8 years ago

    I’ve tried to use the texting option via Google Voice (thinking I might do away with my AT&T texting plan and use the Voice one instead), but I can’t say I’m overly impressed with it.

    In my opinion it’s no where near as quick and seamless as the built-in application for the iPhone. Then again, $30 unlimited is a chunk of change each month.

    JoPa Duenas
    8 years ago

    Thank you Gary. Freebees are always the best!

    8 years ago

    Been using this since you reminded me in this video that we could do this. If I can get the family to use it, we’ll drop the family plan with AT&T and save a lot of $. Thank you Gary!

    Now a question, which you’ll see I also Twittered to you: Is it possible to Text to numbers from Google Voice to numbers like Google Info which are only 6 numbers? A few sources such as Google Info uses short numbers like 466453 and that just kicks back an error from Google Voice just like it does from any other iPhone text app I’ve tried.

    Thanks for your feedback.

      8 years ago

      I’ve never tried it with special 6-digit numbers like that. But if you have tried it and it doesn’t work, then I guess it doesn’t work.

    8 years ago

    Gary, I need your help. I signed up for Google Voice after listening to this video and gave out that phone # to those I send and receive text messages. I am receiving charges on my at&t bill. This past month I charged $6.80 for 34 text messages. Any ideas why this is so?

      7 years ago

      ATT charges .20 per text. I get the same problem. I have 3-4 people that text me all the time even though I never respond back to them. I tell them that I don’t have a plan when they ask why I don’t text back. Now I can text…reluctantly. I like phone calls and real voices.

    7 years ago

    Great post in how to get free text. I get spammed on occasion and sure would like to block these spammers. Maybe an app will come out for that too!

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