Send Free Text Messages with Textie

According to Neustar, somewhere around 2.5 billion text messages are sent in the US every day. In fact, approximately one third of teenagers send just over 100 texts in a single 24 hour period! (source)

The complete cost of all this texting about is no doubt astronomical. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could join the conversation for free? A number of services have cropped up in the past few years promising to do that very thing. Today we’ll look at Textie, an iPhone app from the creators of Borange and Tweetie that allows you to send and receive free SMS text messages.

Signing Up

The first time you open Textie you’ll be prompted to either sign in or sign up. Obviously, if you’ve never used the app before, you’ll take the latter option.


Signing is quick and painless

Creating a new account only requires a first name, last name, email address and password. No other private information such as phone number, address, etc. is asked for or used in any way.

After registering, you will be emailed an activation code to type into the Textie startup screen. Textie is completely free to use but features ads through the Fusion network. If you want to turn off the ads, simply purchase the $1.99 in app upgrade. After that, you’ll be up and running!

Using Textie

Once you’re signed up and ready to go you can immediately start using Textie to send and receive messages from your friends. You can send three types of messages using Textie. The first type is Textie specific messages that can be sent to anyone you know using Textie on an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. Additionally, Textie lets you send SMS text messages and emails.

The SMS messages can be sent to most mobile phones in the U.S. and won’t cost you a cent. Keep in mind though that your friends receiving the messages will get charged according to their various plans.

To send someone a message, tap the new message button in the top right of the interface. A few menus will pop onto the screen for composing your message. First, select a recipient. You can either manually type in a phone number or email address or navigate through the contacts in your address book to make a selection.


Adding a Recipient

After you select a recipient, simply type your message into the field and hit send. If you’re sending a message to an email address or another Textie user, you can attach a picture to the message by tapping the paperclip icon. Textie does not currently allow you to send pictures to phones.


Your friends will receive your messages just like any other text info. There’s a rather large block of copy at the beginning of each text explaining who the message is from and that it was sent through Textie. The message can then be replied to just like normal. You will receive a push notification when someone has replied to one of your messages.

Conversations are kept in a simple list and viewable in a threaded format showing every message in the conversation along with any pictures that have been sent.


Viewing Conversations

Overall Impression

Textie performed quite well in every trial I put it through. It is meant primarily to send free text messages and it does exactly that without glitch or complaint. However, the experience is still somewhat confusing for the person on the receiving end. As stated above, each message begins with a sizable chunk of information, some of which is human decipherable and some of which isn’t. The first person I sent a message to failed to even scroll past this content to find the text that I sent and simply thought they had received an advertisement.

Furthermore, the app seems quite bare as far as features are concerned. For instance, there is no way to have the app scan your contacts to see if any of your friends is already a Textie user. Also, normally when composing text messages I tend to keep an eye on my character count, but Textie doesn’t include this capability. Finally, a few other competing apps such as TextFree and TextNow toss in some customization options such as the ability to choose the conversation background and notification sound. Textfree also supports message forwarding and displays a character count that updates as you type.

Overall, the app just didn’t seem to be up to par with the visual quality and functional depth that you’d expect from the developer of Tweetie (an app so good Twitter bought Atebits just to get it!).

Closing Thoughts

If you’re looking for a simple, no frills and free way to send text messages, you should download Textie and give it a shot. There is virtually no learning curve and everything works perfectly without a hitch.

However, if you want an app that gives you lots of features and customization options you’ll probably be better off with one of the alternatives listed above.


Textie is a simple, no frills way to send and receive free text messages and emails to your friends. Though it runs quite well and gets the job done, the frustrating introductory note added to messages really brings down its value over competing apps.