Isabel writes, "I have an iPhone and an iPad. Is it possible to message or text someone who does not have an Apple product? And, if that’s too easy for you guys, how about this: is there any way to do it for free without a texting plan?"
It’s totally possible. The simplest way is if both you and the person you are trying to message are using a cross-platform messaging app (one that works on both Android and iOS). There are several apps that you can use to send short text messages over Wi-Fi like Kik, WhatsApp and even Facebook Messenger. The two major problems with all of them is that you can only send messages to people who are also on the same service, and you cannot use them to send regular old SMS text messages.
The best app that we have found that actually sends real text messages to everyone is Google Voice. With Google Voice, you can send text messages from the app on your iDevice or from the Google Voice website. It takes a little while to setup, but it’s completely free.
The main catch is that Google Voice gives you a new phone number for your Google Voice account for free. Once you pick it out, you can use that number to make phone calls, send text messages, and receive them too — as long as you’re on Wi-Fi or cellular data. You can text anyone in the U.S. and Canada, and you can receive texts from anywhere in the world.
The simplest way to get started is to go to the Google voice website. Login with your Google email address if you have one, and then click “Get a voice number” on the left and follow the instructions. When it asks you to “add a forwarding phone” you will need to tell it the phone number of your existing cell phone. Google will actually make a robo-call to your phone and give you an activation code to verify that your number belongs to you. Once that is all set up, download the Google Voice app and start texting.
We should once again note that Google Voice is not a cellular service. If you don’t have an internet connect through Wi-Fi or a wireless provider you will not be able to use it.