I'm going to be permanently moving abroad in two months, and I've decided to get an iPhone to bring with me.

I pretty sure that I'll be on a plan with unlimited texting and 2GB of data, but it will NOT include texts to the USA. No-one in my family has a smartphone.

Ideally, I'm looking for a way that they can text me and I can text back for free, but I can't tell if such a thing exists. I do have a Google Voice number, but I'm not sure how to make the most effective use of that.

Any thoughts? Thanks so much!

  • By non-smartphone, do you mean an iPod touch? Where will you be moving and your family is in the US, correct? (Location matters because the app I have in mind has limited outbound and inbound international messaging options) – Ethan Lee Nov 21 '12 at 4:26
  • No, I mean that my parents have "stupid-phones". My parents will be in the US, and I'll be in Israel. – Hannah Nov 21 '12 at 4:37
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    OK, then the app I was thinking of will not work, unfortunately. Also, Google Voice does not support international text messaging. – Ethan Lee Nov 21 '12 at 4:41
  • Yeah, I know it doesn't support international texting. I was thinking that since GV texts show up in email, I could just get the emails with that tag pushed through, and then respond via email to my parents' text, but I don't think that's a very efficient use, and I'm not sure that it would work.... – Hannah Nov 21 '12 at 4:54
  • You're right. Although not the quickest way, this article from Google appears to prove that you can carry on a conversation from email. A paid solution would be to use a VPN service to trick Google Voice with a United States IP Address to login to their iPhone app and receive notifications. – Ethan Lee Nov 21 '12 at 5:08

The app in my mind apparently does work abroad and internationally.

Pinger (free)

Pinger is a cross-platform messenger and a free texting/calling application. It allows you to grab a US number and use it overseas- without having your family back home paying crazy international fees.

Here is a breakdown of what's absolutely free: texting, messaging other Pinger numbers, obtaining a real US number, inbound calls from anyone, and calls to Pinger numbers.

Outbound calls can be purchased in packs of minutes or by watching short advertisements to gain free minutes.

From Pinger support:

Traveling outside the US

You can still use Pinger! Pinger uses the internet to work. Just switch your device to airplane mode (don't want to get crazy international data-roaming fees!). Anytime you have WiFi, be it free in your hotel or paid in a cafe, you can use Pinger to text or call your friends at home.


Will my friends get charged international fees?

Never fear! Because Pinger gives you a US or Canadian phone number, you can use Pinger and your friends at home WON'T get international fees when you're abroad! Only their standard texting and calling rates will apply. Pretty sweet, isn't it? :)

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