Texting plans, to use an old-school phrase, are highway robbery. Carriers charge $10 to $20 a month for data that gets sent in garbage packets and requires almost no resources–nobody should be paying this much for 160 character messages. Luckily, if you have a data plan on your Android device you can use Google Voice to send unlimited texts for free, from your phone or from Voice’s PC browser interface. Here’s how do to it!
1. Sign up for a Google Voice account and number
First, we need to get a Google Voice number. Sign up at google.com/voice for an account, and once you’re all logged in click at the Get a Gooogle Number button in the sidebar.
Fill out the application for a number by first searching for a number by area code, then telling Google Voice what number to link your new number to. Give Voice your existing cell phone number, and then verify you own it by text message or automatic call. Once you’re all signed up for your new number, make a note of it and then head on over to your Android device to set it up.
2. Link your new Google Voice number to your Android device.
By hooking up your new Google Voice number to your Android phone, you’ll be able to access your Google Voice voice messages as well as any text messages people send to your new number. You’ll also be able to send texts from this new number as well, so make sure to tell your friends to add the second number to their phones for you!
First, download the Google Voice application from the Android Market (it’s just called “Voice”). After you load it up, it will ask you to sign in to a Google account–make sure to use the same account you signed up for the number with in step 1.
Second, let Google Voice know when you’d like to use your new number to make calls. As you’re still getting this all set up, select “Only use Google Voice for International Calls” right now.
Finally, configure your voicemail to work with Google Voice. This will allow your callers to leave a message with Voice instead of Verizon, and you’ll be able to check them online (super handy). Follow the prompts that the Voice app gives you, you’ll have to make a call and type in a confirmation code to make the switch over to Google Voice for your voicemail. You’ll still be able to check your Verizon voicemail as you did before, but new messages will come to the Voice account.
3. Set Google Voice as the default app for Texting
Finally, we’ll need to make sure that your phone defaults to using Google Voice for texting. Go to the Settings menu, select Applications, and then Manage Applications. Find “Messaging,” (or the name of any alternative texting app you’ve been using until this point) and then select “Clear Defaults” to clear any defaults that may have been set.
The next time you go to send a text, select Google Voice from the list of apps to use, and check the box to save your settings. Then you’ll be set up to use Voice for texting, for free! Make sure to change any shortcuts you may have on your homescreen, and once you let all your friends know your new number, call your provider and cancel that texting plan! You can save $15 a month just with this little tip.