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I would like to know if one can send and receive text messages on the iPad without having to bother those who are texting you to join IMs etc.

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Google voice is a good option. It lets you send and receive texts from anywhere you have Internet. You get a phone number through it.
It's completely free, and you can use Google's iPhone app on your iPad. Or, you can buy GV Connect for iPad.

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    Google Voice is not available in my country TT.TT – Samantha Catania Jul 3 '11 at 19:41
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Skype for iPad?

But to receive the messages you have to configure your Skype account with your mobile phone number and then you will receive the replies on it instead of the iPad.

Also, give Textfree a look.

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  • Do your friends need to be on Textfree too in order to recieve sms? – Samantha Catania Jul 3 '11 at 20:15
  • It seems not. You receive a free number to which messages will be sent. – Alex Jul 3 '11 at 21:56
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iMessage in iOS5 will bring about some of this, but only for other people running an iOS5 device. Viber and other similar apps to the same thing but they're even more niche.

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If you own an iPhone, you can send and receive SMS from your iPhone contact number using the iPad. This can be made to work by enabling Text Message Forwarding on your iPhone.

It can be enabled by going to Settings apps → Messages → Text Message Forwarding on your iPhone and turning on the switch which appears against your iPad device in the list. You need to be signed in with the same Apple ID on both the iPhone and the iPad for this to work.

For setup instructions, you can go through the Apple Support article How to forward SMS/MMS texts on your iPhone.

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