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 google.com/voice 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.