Anyone who owns a cell phone knows how ridiculous text messaging packages are. Here in the US, it costs a whole 20 cents to send or receive a 160 character message. If you broke down this cost into data transfer, it would cost you almost $1500 to send 1 MB! Fortunately for us iDevice owners, using our data plans and dedicated text messaging apps can help save us some serious coin. The makers of the fabulous Tweetie app have come out with their own version called Textie and it’s available for free today.

Textie works like many of the other texting alternative apps out there like TextPlus or Hello!. After downloading from the App Store, you’ll be asked to register for the service. It’s just a matter of matching up your Textie account to your mobile number or email address to verify your device and you’re ready to text without worrying about the text fees.

The app functions like your stock iPhone Messaging app with integration to your Contacts and threaded messaging to resemble a chat session. You can also send group messages along with photos as well.

For your friends that are already using the app and have linked their mobile number or email to the service, messages will appear in Textie with push notifications alerting them when new messages arrive. What makes Textie a compelling app to try is you can use it regardless of whether the recipient uses Textie as well. Messages will appear in your friend’s SMS inbox looking much like an email. Replying to the message is like texting back to any other SMS.

So far in my tests, it’s worked as advertised although there does appear to be some lag in delivery time of messages. But for free (with ad support), you can’t argue too much. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

Textie is available for free on the App Store.