IMG 0888 e1292982281486 260x376 textPlus brings group messaging to the iPod Touch and iPad, at a costTNW Quick Hit

textPlus 4, a “free,” simple, method of conducting group chats, share pictures, discover and converse with like-minded individuals on the iPhone, is now more social, and on both the iPod Touch and iPad.

Hits: Easy-to-use, unlimited, group texting over WiFi, 3G or Edge. Push notifications, Face Text (more on this later), and push notifications.

Misses: textPlus 4, while a free app, has in-app purchases at hefty prices, free SMS is limited to the U.S. and Canada, and most importantly, one must notify current contacts of new textPlus 4 number or, well, you’ll see what kind of response you’ll receive upon texting someone from your iDevice‘s contacts.

Overall: 3/5

The Details:

I enjoy apps or smartphone features which offer new ways of communicating with others.  When iPhone 4 was announced FaceTime was one of the more exciting aspects of the device.  Granted, I rarely use FaceTime (video chatting is simply not my thing), but the option of being able to do so is neat.

FunChat, an app we’ve profiled at TNW, allows one to send email, SMS and MMS messages to individuals or groups for free, and embed photos in one’s messages.  Unfortunately, unless both iPhone or iPod Touch users have the app, messages sent are free only for the sending party.

textPlus 4 (free) is an amalgamation of both FaceTime and FunChat, we reviewed the app following previous upgrades, with some nice extras just added in version 4.4.

textPlus 4 is a simple way to start chats, individual and group, share pictures, meet new people, engage in conversations already in progress and more.  Here’s what to expect from version 4.4 of the app.

After setting up an account (takes seconds to do) one gets to choose a textPlus 4 phone number.  textPlus 4 asks one to choose an area code, and then select from a list of numbers.  Upon doing so, you probably think you’ve got your new number, right?  Wrong!

This is the first annoying feature of textPlus 4.  The third screen below asks you to choose the number you’ve thought was yours, which it can be for $1.99, or, as I did, chose textPlus 4′s free suggestion.  Not only is leading one to believe they will be able to choose a number and then, in a bait and switch, informing one that it will cost them to do so terrible, but $1.99 for a “premium number?”  I think not.

With free number in hand, it was time to send a group message.  Selecting two contacts, I sent a test message.  When one of the recipients responded, it was pushed to my iPhone and their responses indicate what one can expect upon sending a message to a contact using textPlus 4 for the first time.  Needless to say they were not ready for my test message.

This is the second annoying feature of textPlus 4.  One can send messages, but those receiving them don’t recognize the number and are likely to either ignore it, if you don’t identify yourself, or will respond with questions, forcing the sender to explain his/her actions.  Hopefully your contacts will be open to receiving messages from a strange number and save it for future reference.  Should they not, one of the features of the app is useless.

Version 4.4 of the app adds the ability for users to:

  • EARN CREDITS – Low on cash? Earn credits to buy stuff in the textPlus Store!
  • PIMP YOUR COMMUNITY – Add an avatar, set a category, add tags, get Featured!
  • BETTER PROFILES – Add more info about yourself…make it easier to meet new people.
  • FIND PEOPLE – Tap “People” and Search. Who knows who you’ll find!
IMG 0902 e1292985943533 341x500 textPlus brings group messaging to the iPod Touch and iPad, at a cost

textPlus 4 Group Search and Selection

Earning credits is a nice feature.  Why?  In-app purchases are expensive.  To wit, want an ad-free experience? That’s $5.99.  Want a Sci-Fi, Animal, or Fun Sound Pack? That’s $.99 per pack.  And then there’s that $1.99 for a premium number business.

textPlus 4 is a nice app with some grossly annoying features that keep it from being great.  The phone number selection process is simply horrid.  Likewise the advertising experience is wretched, which I suspect is why they charge $5.99 to allow you to rid yourself of them, knowing you’ll want to.  The ads are intrusive, numerous, and for products I don’t want, Scope mouthwash, for example.

If you desire group texting, a way to meet new people, or a chat room experience on your iDevice, textPlus 4 is a great app to use.  Just beware of the annoyances and pitfalls that come with it.