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CNET Top 5
Free SMS appsTexting can be expensive, but these apps can make it free - and better.
Texting is huge. The average American cell phone owner sends & receives 41.5 text messages a day, over 1,200 a month. Try that on one of those 500 texts for $10 plans and the overages are gonnaÃ¯Â¿Â½ nearly double your monthly bill. You can get an unlimited plan but here are some even better options: IÃ¯Â¿Â½m Brian Cooley with the Top 5 SMS texting apps that are both cheaper and more fun to use, ranked by the feature sets. #5 Google Voice Google Voice has the least features of any IÃ¯Â¿Â½ll show you, but it does something unique: It assigns you a separate Google Voice phone number which means you can also text people who are on dumb phones without internet data plans and you still wonÃ¯Â¿Â½t be charged for SMS on your end. Neat trick. DoesnÃ¯Â¿Â½t quite make up for other things it canÃ¯Â¿Â½t do, like text pictures. #4 Kik If youÃ¯Â¿Â½re a real heavy texter, with like 5 SMS threads doing at once, and dread that day when sluggish text app is going to cause you to sext a photo to the boss instead of the BF, Kik is your huckleberry. Super responsive. It also has single letter callouts in the little text bubbles to let you know if a text has been Sent, Delivered, or Read. Great for the obsessively impatient among you. #3 LiveProfile LiveProfile's interesting in that it links via your email address instead of your phone number making it great if use as many phones as you send texts: Log in via your email address on any of them and your messages and contacts follow you. Also lets you post your text to Twitter or FB, but doesnÃ¯Â¿Â½t offer group chat, which 3 of our 5 do. #2 Ping Chat PingChat! has the Group Chat that LiveProfile is missing, but also letÃ¯Â¿Â½s you text pictures while sharing you location and integrating your social networks, because the stalkers union called and theyÃ¯Â¿Â½re demanding an easier workload. This is an ad supported app though and no clean paid version as of this moment. . Before we get to our #1 SMS text alternative, letÃ¯Â¿Â½s get a little reality check on this idea that Ã¯Â¿Â½everyoneÃ¯Â¿Â½s texting instead of callingÃ¯Â¿Â½. No, weÃ¯Â¿Â½re actually doing tons of both. The latest numbers from the Pew Internet and American life survey shows that the more you text the more you call. But the more a person texts, the more they prefer to be contacted that way, so take a hint and STOP CALLING ME!. #1 KakaoTalk It has just about every major feature going for it, send pictures, send video, share audio, lots of appearance customization to keep you phone fetishists from getting all sweaty and nervous that your phone isnÃ¯Â¿Â½t cooler than mine. And you can password protect that conversation between you and Mrs. Jones. But note that Kakao is avail on the fewest platforms, just iPhone and Android as of todayÃ¯Â¿Â½s shoot. All the others add either BlackBerry or Windows phones support. For the full details on todayÃ¯Â¿Â½s great text apps check out Nicole CozmaÃ¯Â¿Â½s piece on CNET.com, weÃ¯Â¿Â½ve got a link to it at the Top 5 page at top5.cnet.com