One phone gets you one phone number, right? Actually, it's possible to add a second line, which can be useful in all kinds of ways: business, dating, selling stuff on Craigslist and so on. There's a good free option in the form of
, but I'm going to make the case for this instead: ZDNet Academy is offering a lifetime subscription to second-line service Hushed for $21.25 with promo code PRESIDENT15. Note that this is an update of a deal from last year; it was $1.25 cheaper then, but that's hardly a dealbreaker.
If you've never used a second-line app before, it works like this: You choose a new number to use with Hushed. When someone calls that number, your phone rings (duh). To make a call, you use the Hushed app instead of the stock dialer.
Messaging works pretty much the same way, and Hushed offers some noteworthy capabilities in this side of the app: group chat, burnable messages (meaning they're deleted after being read) and, perhaps most important, end-to-end encrypted messaging. That puts Hushed on par with Signal, except that the former has "no affiliation with any major corporations and [is] in no way beholden to anyone," according to a company rep.
Hushed also offers features like autoreplies to text messages, custom voicemail, Slack integration (you can send texts directly from it) and support for syncing messages and voicemail to a Dropbox account.
Stuff like that helps justify paying $21 for Hushed instead of $0 for Google Voice. I've used both, and while the latter can definitely get the job done, the UI is clunky, if not downright confusing in places. That said, I recommend reading the user reviews for the iOS and Android versions of the app, depending on which you'll be using. Hushed has a 4.6-star rating on the iOS side, but only 3.7 stars on Android. (I use the former; no complaints to speak of.)
It's worth noting that this lifetime subscription limits you to "a combination of 6,000 SMS or 1,000 phone minutes per year." That's probably more than enough for most users, but Google Voice has no such limitations. Be sure to read the full description on the product page so you know exactly what you're getting -- especially the part about keeping your subscription active.
I won't say Hushed is perfect, but for $21, for life, it's a pretty killer deal. No other second-line service comes close, price-wise.
Originally published last year. Updated to reflect new information and pricing. Removed expired bonus deal.
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