You might have come across a small pop up in Gmail recently. Google has rolled out a new service which lets you send Free SMS to your friends. The feature has been introduced with partnership with mobile operators in various circles, essentially letting you send free SMS to the any number that belong to any of the supported carriers.
How does it work?
The principle for the user is quiet simple. You just enter the number in your Google Talk chat window and send the SMS. Initially you are credited with 50 SMS balance. Each time you receive a reply, you gain 5 credits. So virtually as long as the recipient keeps replying to your texts, you can keep texting for free.
Keep in mind that, the recipient is charged for replying to your SMS according to his plan’s rates.
All the carriers barring some circles of Vodafone and BSNL are supported. It is interesting to note that Airtel (India’s major carrier) is not supported at all, so you can not send texts to a Airtel number. This is quite disappointing considering the number of Airtel customers. You can check out the full list of supported carriers here
Ok, now tell me how to send the free texts
In your Google Talk chat box, hover over the desired contact (online or offline) and select the desired person. Now click the tiny arrow at the bottom right and select send SMS.
Now if your selected contact does not already have a assigned mobile number you will have to enter it for the first time.
But most often, you would not have to do that, as you can just search your Google Contacts from the Gmail Chat search field and send the SMS’s right off the bat.
Gmail automatically breaks up your text into multiple parts if you are composing a long text unlike say Way2SMS, which is extremely convenient. Another cool part about Google’s Free SMS service is that you receive the replies straight inside the chat window. However, for some reason or bug the history is not displayed right inside the chat window. You can access it from the Chats label though.
Also keep in mind that, if the number you choose to send the SMS belongs to an unsupported carrier like Airtel, you will get a notification that your SMS was not sent.
Though SMS is becoming more and more irrelevant thanks to various other texting medium’s like Whatsapp or even Google’s own GTalk, Google’s Free SMS service is incredibly handy in many situations. Wish Google could support Airtel too!
If you wish to send SMS to many people using Google Channels, please refer this post: The Ultimate Guide to – Google 9870807070 SMS Channel