As its name suggests, TextPlus lets you send free messages, plus make free calls to other TextPlus users and cheap calls to those who don't have the app. Available for Android, iOS, Kindle Fire and Windows Phone 8, this app's appeal is that the calling rates are cheaper than you might pay through your carrier, but is it worth the download?
After you download the app, TextPlus asks to send you push notifications, and then lets you create a login by asking for your country, name, gender, username, password, email address and birth year. Next, you give TextPlus access to your Contacts. TextPlus then assigns you a new phone number; we wish you could keep your existing number, as with Viber and WhatsApp.
Click to EnlargeTextPlus' interface is fairly straightforward: A bottom navigation bar has buttons for Call, Camera, Walkie-Talkie and Message. A button on the upper right lists all your contacts and lets you search by number, name or username. By tapping Text+, you can view a list of your friends who also have TextPlus. A Settings button in the upper left displays TextPlus rates and the option to buy credits and filter your inbox by messages, group messages and calls.
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When you start chatting with friends, recent messages are added to the main interface, which can get very busy. Also, there's an annoying bottom ad bar that clutters up the interface.
Click to EnlargeAs the first part of its name suggests, TextPlus lets you send messages for free to any other TextPlus user worldwide, and free SMS messages to any U.S. or Canadian mobile number. There's a group-chat function, but you're limited to 20 people at a time, versus 30 in WhatsApp and 40 in Viber.
The "Plus" in TextPlus refers to the fact that users can place domestic and international voice calls for free. However, they can only place free calls to other TextPlus users. To call non-TextPlus users, you must purchase credits.
A walkie-talkie feature sends audio notes; just hold the Record button while speaking, and then send the audio message. TextPlus also lets you send photos from your Camera Roll or take a photo from within the app itself.
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Click to EnlargeIt's worth noting that before you compose a text, you need to select your friend's TextPlus number, not their mobile number. Doing the latter will result in carrier charges.
The Text+ filter within the Contacts menu is supposed to display what contacts already have the app, but our Text+ feed displayed one friend who doesn't have the app and failed to display the friend we'd been chatting with using TextPlus.
Calling someone from within a TextPlus message uses TextPlus numbers and credits. Calls we placed had mixed results; one minute, sound was crystal clear, and the next, our caller was cutting out and then we lost him entirely. The walkie-talkie feature worked fine, though; audio came through crystal clear, and we had no problem recording.
Calls via TextPlus to other users are free, and you can buy credits for other domestic and international calls. Calls within the U.S. cost 2 cents per minute, and international rates vary. For example, calling Canada, Mexico, the U.K. or China costs 2.2 cents per minute, but calling a mobile number in Belgium costs 60.4 cents per minute.
TextPlus is a good -- but not great -- app for messaging and calling friends. The Text+ filter was inaccurate for finding contacts, and the bottom ad bar proved distracting. Apps such as Viber and WhatsApp, which have friendlier interfaces and let you use your existing phone number, are much better options for messaging and sharing photos and videos.