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Apps allow smart phone users to connect for free

6:15 AM, Jun 3, 2012   |    comments
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"People who need to save on their texting plans or their voice plans, because we allow people to do free communication, we can actually offer big opportunity for these people to save a lot of money," Christophe Bach the co-founder of TextMe told 9NEWS.

The app gives consumers a free phone number, which allows them to send texts, make calls and even video conference.

While the app will work on a regular cell phone data plan, it has a unique feature that allows consumers to send their texts or make voice or video calls via wireless internet for free.

"What we see is that 85 percent of the usage of the app is on Wi-Fi," said Bach. "So it's on a totally free network. And that's what people like; being able to communicate for free outside of any carrier plan."

The app isn't just for phones. It will also work on other internet enabled devices.

"The people who are benefiting from TextMe are people who actually need a phone number," said Bach. "So it can be anyone from a teenager who has an iPod Touch and doesn't yet have a phone. So with TextMe we actually transform her iPod Touch into a full blown telephone. From the time she downloads TextMe she actually gets a phone number so she is live on the telephone networks and she can send texts and voice calls to any other phone. And we have people with iPads because when you're in your living room you may want to have casual texting and calling so we are actually transforming the iPad into a full blown telephone as well."

The app is free to download and works through regular cell phone data plans or for free anywhere wireless internet is available.

The texting feature has been available for a year and has already been downloaded more than five million times to both Apple and Android devices. The voice and video features are more recent and are currently only available for Apple devices but Bach says they will be available to Android users later this summer.

However, TextMe isn't the only app allowing people to connect for free.

"WhosHere allows you to meet people, like minded people, nearby and lets you interact with them via free text messaging, free image messaging, free voice over IP calls, and most recently free video calls," Stephen Smith, the Chief Operating Officer of WhosHere, told 9NEWS.

This location based app allows users looking for casual conversation, new friends or even a significant other anonymously.

"The really unique thing about using WhosHere is it is done without disclosing or using any personally identifiable information. So when you send a text or make a phone call or do a video chat you never use or disclose your phone number, Skype ID or an ID of any kind," Smith said. "You can actually have a phone call and not have to give out your phone number."

Users fill out a profile in which every field is optional to help find like minded matches for people to talk to. However, Smith says the more information people volunteer and the wider the net they cast with the app the easier it will be to find matches.

"If you say, 'I'm just on WhosHere to chat and make friends and I'm open to seeing any adult, either male or female,' you will see more people near you," said Smith. "If you say, 'I'm using it for dating only and I'm looking for males 25-26,' the likelihood that we'll have a match within a mile of you would substantially decrease, so your results will be further out."

If the conversation doesn't go well, Smith says users can block the person they were speaking to, which prevents that person from using that device to contact the user again. As an added layer of security, Smith says users can also set the app to turn off the feature that shows their distance away if another user gets within as little as one mile to within fifty miles of them.

"[It's] to the degree that you want to enjoy the app and use it but you really want to not have people know exactly how far away you are. You can control that," said Smith.

The app is free to download and works through regular cell phone data plans or for free over wireless internet. WhosHere is currently only available for the iPhone but will be ready for Android soon.

For more information on TextMe please visit the iTunes store or the WhosHere website.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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