Save some green, and ditch your carrier’s texting plan with Google Voice!Nowadays, our smartphones do so much with our always-on Internet connections that we forget about the phone part of our devices. However, take one look at your phone bill and you’ll get a stark reminder of just how much you’re paying for your minutes and texts – often more than you’re paying for that oh-so-precious data. Want to save some cash every month? Grab the Google Voice (GV) app, ditch your carrier’s texting plan, and start texting for free!

Platform Availability: iOS 3.0 and up, Android 1.6 and up

You can use GV with any phone, but you need the app to unlock the true potential of GV (i.e. free texting).

Cost: We always love pointing out free stuff, so set up a free account here, get the free iOS app here, and get the free Android app here.

What it is: GV is a phone service the folks in Mountain View provide that associates your existing phone numbers to a new GV number that’s tied to your Google Account. This GV number in combination with the GV app provides a number of cool features like:

1) Free unlimited texts

2) Voicemail transcription

3) Call forwarding and blocking based on user-defined rules

And so much more…

How does it work: After you setup your account, just log into the GV app with your Google account. Both Android and iOS feature the same basic interface: To send free texts, it’s as easy as going to the Dialer tab, adding a number (there’s great native contacts support), and sending as many drunk texts as you want without any monetary repercussions (although the social ones may be far more costly). Unfortunately, texts from people whom text your GV number will only show up in the app and not in messages on iOS (although you can fix that with this $2.99 tweak if you have a jailbroken iOS device). Edit: Reader Gotlactose mentioned a similar Phone GV Extension, which also costs $2.99 and can be downloaded here.

GV features an intuitive and uniform interface on all devices.Features: Free Texts – Text as much as you want as long as you have a mobile Internet connection. The only limitation is that you can’t send MMS (picture or video messages).

Visual Voicemail – GV will send you emails and texts notifying you of new voicemails with text transcriptions of your messages. From the app, you can then see all your voicemails and play them back just like your mp3’s with fast-forward, rewind, etc.

Cheap International Calls – Do you have family overseas? Dial directly from the GV app and spend just pennies per call to keep in touch. Think Skype already fills this niche? GV features cheaper international rates and no mandatory connection fees, unlike Skype. 

The Competition: There several free texting apps out there:

Textfree with Voice – Free – iOS Download, Android Download

textPlus Free – Free – iOS Download, Android Download

First off, these apps constantly barrage you with ads, which GV does not. Secondly, these free options don’t integrate with your phone nearly as well as the GV app. They don’t feature the wonderful visual voicemail, call forwarding, or call screening features that GV does. For free texting and enhanced calling, GV is simply unmatched.

Summary: Why spend money on expensive texts when you can just use your data plan for these tiny messages? Save some money, text as much as you want, and unlock fantastic calling features with GV. Once you start using GV, you’ll never want to go back to using your phone without it.

Do you know of any other options to get free texting? Why do you prefer them to Google Voice? Let us know in the comments!