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Free SMS On IPhone 3G Via AOL IM Client 267

Glenn Fleishman writes "Jeff Carlson has discovered that you can bypass the 20 cent per message or $5 to $20 per month fees for SMS (text messaging) with the iPhone 3G and AT&T by using AOL's downloadable instant message client for iPhone 2.0, which is free. Just like the full-blown AOL IM system, you can add buddies that are the phone numbers of cell phones you want to send SMS to, and you establish a two-way conduit. The recipient still pays for SMS (if they have a fee) on their end, but if it's another iPhone user, you could coordinate with them via SMS to use instant messaging instead."
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Free SMS On IPhone 3G Via AOL IM Client

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  • Re:Ummm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 13, 2008 @02:46PM (#24174193)

    I've worked with the iPhone SDK and 3rd-party apps cannot push to the UI unless they are selected and running.

    So yes, email FTW. Because it's pushed to the UI. Unlike 3rd-party app messages.


  • Re:Oh lord (Score:2, Informative)

    by gorrepati ( 866378 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @02:49PM (#24174209) Homepage
    Yeah, Give Jeff Carlson a Nobel and while at it throw in a Pulitzer for Glenn Flieshman for authorship. Seriously, where the fuck are the editors? How does stuff like this make it to the front page
  • by gcnaddict ( 841664 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:00PM (#24174311)
    I've been using JiveTalk with the Blackberry (not advertising this) to avoid text messaging fees for a while now. JiveTalk is 30 bucks for a user license, but it's gotten good reviews from BGR, etc. so I thought it might not be a bad deal.
  • mundu (Score:3, Informative)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:06PM (#24174361) Homepage Journal
    Though not an app, mundu [mundu.com] has allowed us to do this for quite some time, and you are not stuck with AOL.

    I must say that I am glad I am not a kid. The amount they charge for IM, which appears to be aimed at younger people, and often paid by parents, is almost criminal. Of course, there is the choice not to use it. I suppose there is also the choice to never have a friend. It kind of remind me of when you could no longer talk on the phone as long as you wanted for a quarter(for those of us that did not have whistle, that is).

    Hopefully one advantage of smart phones will be the wider use of IM, which should force cell companies to just include texting with the data plan.

  • by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @03:36PM (#24174607)

    If you call someone long distance, do they normally pay long distance fees?

    Yes, if they have a cell phone. That's how cell phones work in the US: both sides pay. SMS is nothing unusual in this regard.

  • by Christopher Rogers ( 873720 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @04:08PM (#24174829)

    Text messages from T-Mobile are free as well (in the US).

  • by dfsmith ( 960400 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @04:43PM (#24175069) Homepage Journal

    The SMS gateways [wikipedia.org] are very useful from the command line:

    echo "Where am I?"|mail -s "Please tell me" 14085551212@txt.att.net

    But by and large, the browser on my phone is too slow for me to bother to look up the address and log in to email. So, the phone company gets another 10c for my laziness....

  • by rizzle ( 848961 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @05:49PM (#24175471)

    It's not going anywhere as far as I know. I'm one of the developers of AIM for iPhone, and frankly we're glad that it's been discovered and slashdotted :)

    Sending IMs to a mobile number is a feature of the AIM service, and there's no reason that we shouldn't have it for the iPhone. In fact, our data API (which is open sourced here [google.com]) doesn't distinguish between mobile numbers and buddies.

  • by nuggetman ( 242645 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @06:32PM (#24175777) Homepage

    Firstly... has the AIM team just thrown in the towel on AIM for Mac?

    Second... I've found the iPhone client to be horribly glitchy when you close the app without signing off. If messages are sent to me while it's closed, I just get blank messages upon reopening the client.

  • Re:Ummm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Helios1182 ( 629010 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @08:01PM (#24176277)

    If you are using Skype the person you are calling also has to be on Skype, or you are going to end up paying to make/receive calls (to a phone number) through Skype anyway.

  • by B1 ( 86803 ) on Sunday July 13, 2008 @08:58PM (#24176543)

    I think if you went to the average person who uses text messaging heavily, they would say they're paying for the ability to send text messages to their friends when they can't make a phone call. They don't really care how it works or how the network is (mis)engineered. -- they just care that it does. If they're happy paying $.10 per message (or $10.00 / month for unlimited), then they'll subscribe to SMS and the telco will be happy to take their money.

    As for being badly engineered, nobody expected SMS volume to grow like it has. SMS was originally expected to be a way to send programming updates to handsets via "spare" bandwidth on the network. While it was also possible to send regular text messages via SMS, it really didn't get much attention until just a few years ago. Once people discovered SMS, the usage took off beyond the wildest dreams of the carriers (both in terms of profit and also impact). It's difficult to keep engineering for 30 - 50% per year growth in volume without spending a lot of money in hardware / network upgrades.

    As for a better protocol that may one day deprecate SMS -- I guarantee that carriers are looking for one that scales better, without impacting battery life (you probably can't keep the phone continuously connected to an IM server via the data network, or you'll drain the battery in an hour). That's a solvable problem though, once the carriers and handset manufacturers can all agree on the solution. I expect the end result it will look something like a cross between SMS and IM.

    Don't expect that to happen quickly, as people will need new handsets for that to work -- and most people don't upgrade phones that often. Even when it does, as long as the carriers control the network or the devices that communicate with it, they'll find a way to bill for you using it, in a way that maximizes their profit.

    The bottom line is this -- carriers are looking for ways to bill you as much as possible without you complaining or dropping service. Services and add-on features are the means by which they justify this billing. They're not holding a gun to your head though -- if you don't want the service, have them remove it from your account, or don't use it. But with SMS, lots of people use it happily, and some quite heavily. They wouldn't be doing so if they truly felt it was a ripoff.

  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @06:11AM (#24178967)

    I even get messages sometimes from the telco, which means they are getting free money everytime they send a promotion to every cell phone.

    You guys have to pay to receive text messages? Wow, no wonder so many US-based slashdot readers seem to hate sms so much... Over here in the UK, receiving them is free (unless you sign up for some sort of charged service, e.g. daily horoscope, sports news, etc) and most plans have some number per month included in the price (e.g. on my plan I can send up to 500 per month at no extra cost).

  • by rizzle ( 848961 ) on Monday July 14, 2008 @10:23AM (#24180877)

    Firstly... has the AIM team just thrown in the towel on AIM for Mac?

    In addition to iChat (which uses AIM), we have a new desktop suite for Mac, which includes a new AIM mac client: AOL Desktop for Mac [aol.com]. The Mac team at AOL's blog is here [aol.com]

    Second... I've found the iPhone client to be horribly glitchy when you close the app without signing off. If messages are sent to me while it's closed, I just get blank messages upon reopening the client.

    Yeah, we noticed that on the first day of release, too. There seems to be a difference between the developer OS build and the OS build that was sent out to consumers on Thurs/Fri. We're definitely looking into it. Do you get it every time you re-open the client? or sometimes you get it as blank and sometimes not?

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.