For iPod Touch users who want the iPhone texting experience, or iPhone users who want to save money and skip the texting plans, there are a myriad of popular free and paid iOS alternatives.
One of the many features new to iOS 5, iMessage sends free text-like messages and group chat to any iPhone, iPod, or iPad running iOS 5 with a registered Apple ID. iPod touch or iPad users must be linked to Wi-Fi. In addition, iMessage sends photos, video, contact cards, and map locations to any fellow iMessage contact.
Google Voice takes advantage of the pristine Voice-over-Internet-protocol, and requires sign up for an account on a desktop browser. Once the number is ported to Google from the user's service provider, it can make domestic and international calls free over Wi-Fi, and get transcribed voicemails. Although there is no voice dial like the iPhone, it has Quick Dial Contacts that synchronize with the user's account. It also sends and receives unlimited SMS messages in chat bubble-style threads.
Textfree is a popular free text-messaging app, and like Google Voice, provides the user a complimentary 10-digit phone number to send and receive messages. Messages are also accessible online and from any other iPhone or Android device with the app installed. It cannot forward messages to other numbers and email addresses, block unwanted callers, and native desktop support is not offered.
Designed as a phone alternative for $10 per month, Line2 provides free text messaging and Wi-Fi phone calls for those looking to replace an existing phone service or turn an iPod Touch into an iPhone. It can be tested free for a month with limited features.
BiteSMS is a free ad-based app for jail broken iPhones. Each message costs 12 cents, but it get cheaper with additional credits bought that work with local, national, and international numbers. It costs $10 to remove ads.
Infinite SMS is bare bones interface built on Google Voice for users who do not mind ads, or paying $5 to remove them.