A few weeks ago I decided to upgrade from a Sony Ericsson phone to an iPhone 3GS. While the extra $30 a month data plan won’t keep me out of college, the additional $20 unlimited texting plan just might. Thankfully, Textfree Unlimited is here to solve that problem, and for just a one time fee of $6, it’s a heck of a lot better than paying an extra $240 a year simply to text my friends.
I have used almost every other possible SMS solution out there – and Textfree Unlimited is a smash hit. One of the major problems with every other SMS app is that the other party cannot initiate conversions. For instance, when I text Steve Jobs and ask him if he wants to go get a slice of Pizza, he is able to text me back. Pinger uses a service that sends a text message from your iDevice to your friend’s phone using a bizarre number. However, this number can then be saved as a contact in your friend’s phone, thus enabling them to text that specific number and initiate a conversation. By selecting that number, the text automatically goes straight to the Textfree Unlimited app instead of your regular Messages app. I found that this method also worked with the textPlus app, which is a decent, free alternative SMS app.
You will be prompted to create your very own @textfree.us name which serves as your login at first launch. You can then set your own name which will appear to your friends when you text them. The main menu is applesauce-bland, but is easy to navigate through with three buttons on the top right side of the screen: refresh, settings, and send a new text message.
There are a few nifty features under settings, which let you customize the app with both tones and themes. You can set a tone for each specific person that you contact, which makes it simple to remember who is texting you before you even look at their name. You can choose from a large selection of alerts such as a cat’s meow, cow’s moo, and even farts (whoopee). The themes are probably my favorite part of Textfree Unlimited. Though the default theme is drab, you can brighten up the conversation screen through the many themes that are available. Each changes the background, chat bubbles, and emoticons of the conversation screen (although the different styled emoticons won’t be visible to your friends).
After tapping the last button on the main menu (send a new text message button), you’re given two choices for texting: by searching contacts for a friend’s name, or by simply typing their number in the keypad. Once you initiate a conversation with somebody, their name will appear in the main menu, which allows easy access to all your conversations. To delete a conversation, just swipe across the person’s tab and a delete button will appear from the right side of the tab. A conversation is never deleted and you can always view old messages from prior conversations. Thus, the only way to delete a conversation is manually. Possibly one of the coolest features about Textfree Unlimited is the pop-up notifications that appear when somebody texts you, which makes the app even more authentic and identical to the Messages app. Textfree Unlimited also allows you to text in both landscape and portrait modes.
Textfree Unlimited unfortunately has a few minor quirks. For starters, sometimes text doesn’t appear right away in the conversation screen after receiving it even after it appeared in a pop-up notification. Other times, it won’t notify you when a message is received, which can be rather annoying when your friends are telling you to meet up with them on the way to school in the morning. Another minor gripe is that you’re unable to listen to your music while texting.
Overall, Textfree Unlimited, by Pinger, is the best SMS solution I have tried. It gets the job done, and also has a few nice features such as customization and pop-up notifications. Although it has a few bugs, Textfree Unlimited is without a doubt a solid SMS app which gives a good ol’ kick to AT&T’s $20 texting plan.
Therefore, I award Textfree Unlimited a calloused-fingered rating of Grab It.
|Title:||Textfree Unlimited – Send Text Messages (SMS) Free! (v. 3.1.1)||Developer:||Pinger, Inc.|
|Price:||$5.99||App Size:||6.3 MB|