Apps for Texting
Text messaging started in 1992 with two words: "Merry Christmas." It has been growing to staggering numbers ever since. Many users use texting as their primary means of conversation, rarely ever making calls. With most providers charging around 20 cents a message nowadays, this quickly adds up if you don't have an expensive unlimited plan. Just how much would a capped plan cost? Up to $1,300 a megabyte on most carriers! That's outrageous considering even their expensive 2 gigs for 20 bucks internet only plan is nowhere close to that price. With the increase in price, decrease in pay and just frustration with the system, a lot of people are trimming down their contracts in search of a cheaper, or free alternative. Once again, the iPhone has an app for that. Note that any time I put Free Texting in quotes, it means that you do not get your own number. This, I feel, is essential for any app that *really* wants to replace your standard sms app. Update!: I am only able to recommend apps to US based iTunes accounts. I have no way to test apps outside of the US. If you find one that works for you in another country, and is available for download in the US, contact me via email and I will look into it.
Text Free with Textfree: SMS with a Real Phone Number
Textfree is a very compelling option for texting on an iOS device. This app gives you your own phone number to be used on your devices, while providing support for Facebook Chat as well. However, what really sets Textfree apart from the rest is its ability to make and receive phone calls. This feature is free for Textfree to Textfree users but costs money to buy minutes. Overall, Textfree is an extremely stable and reliable app that is probably the best for texting and calls on any iDevice.
TextNow Free - Unlimited Texting and Picture Messaging (SMS & MMS)
Free texting recently updated with the ability to use your own number! As of this edit, you have a very limited amount of area codes to choose from, which might not matter to you. This app has the ability to send pictures and a nice amount of customization. You can customize ringtones, backgrounds and themes to be contact-specific. Thanks to Lee in the comments for pointing out that you can add Google Voice Integration with this app. Check here: http://blog.enflick.com/?p=3 For more information.
"Free texting" with a pretty heavy feature set behind it. Group chats, read receipts, the ability to send pictures, video IF taken from the iPhone camera, location mapping, and even a see-through background for walking while texting. Everything seems to be customizable as well, from backgrounds to colors of speech bubbles to contact blocking and passcode settings.
textPlus Free Text + Calls : Free Texting + Free Phone Calling + Free Worldwide Messenger
"Free texting" with group text and chat room communities. Like TextFree, it also does not send pictures.
Messagey - send SMS, MMS for free! Fast and easy texting.
"Free Texting", picture messaging and "walk to text" which lets you use the iPhone camera as the background. It also boasts fully customizable backgrounds and ringtones for each contact. Note that you get 3 months of pro with this purchase, then it reverts to the lite ad supported version.
Textie Messaging - Beautiful free text chat unlimited (SMS)
"Free Texting" with picture messaging. Nothing to make it stand out in the crowd though. This app is ad-supported, but the ads can be bought out for $1.99. It should be noted in the app description it sayss that this app is not meant to replace your current sms plan. Well, isn't that the point??
Animoticons+Emoji(PRO) for MMS Text Messaging,EMAIL
Do you like Emojis?? Then you'll love this. The same "free texting" as everyone else, but cuter. NOTE that this app has a free version that seems just as good, just fewer emojis. You'll find the link to the free version below.
Pinch iMessenger Pro
Pinch iMessengar HD is an okay option for texting on iOS. While not a bad app per se, it does not offer any features that other apps don’t. The one thing it does have is promotions and contests, where you can win prizes such as cash cards. While Pinch iMessenger is a stable app that does what it's said to do, there is nothing too special about it and I would recommend looking at another app for texting on iOS.
FunMail™ Free Text Messaging
"Free Texting" has become my new way of saying that it doesn't give a static phone number. What this app DOES give is free private group messaging and pre-made images you can send. Note that you can't send any from your picture gallery or camera roll. Other than that, it's par for the course.