Tag Archives: Text Messages

Other for iPhone Quickly Sends Canned Messages to One Other Person

Other for iPhone Quickly Sends Canned Messages to One Other Person

iPhone: If you have one person you tend to message with a lot, Other is a very simple little app that makes sending a canned message to them a ton easier.

Other is kind of like a launcher for messaging a single person. You can set it up with predefined messages, so it’s super easy to instantly send a message through the normal Messages app to them. If you have a iPhone 6s, you can even send those messages from a 3D Touch shortcut on the home screen. There’s also a share extension so you can easily send something like a URL in Safari to that person with just a couple taps. If you tend to send the same type of message to one person a lot, like that you’re on your way home, stuck in traffic, or whatever else, Other makes it just a little bit easier.

Other (Free) | iTunes App Store via The Daily App

Facebook Account Kit Will Let You Log Into Apps With Your Phone Number

Facebook Account Kit Will Let You Log Into Apps With Your Phone Number

Most of us have used Facebook as a simple way to log into accounts. Today, Facebook’s making it even easier by allowing you to login to websites with just your phone number. You don’t even need to have a Facebook account.

The feature is part of Facebook’s new Account Kit program. A developer can use Account Kit to add support to their apps or websites for phone number login.

Logging in with your phone skips the password altogether. When you login with Account Kit, you’ll enter your phone number. Then, Facebook will text you a code that you can use to confirm that you’re the one logging in. It’s a bit like skipping straight to the second step in two-factor authentication. It also means you won’t be able to login to any account where you used Account Kit unless you have your phone with you, which may be a good thing.

Drivemode Responds to Texts with Your Voice in Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and More

Android: Previously mentioned hands-free driving app Drivemode has a lot of great features, but it just added a great one—the ability to respond to messages in almost any texting app with your voice. SMS is included, but so is Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Gmail, and more.

Those are just some of the most popular messaging apps too. Fans of Google Inbox will find it’s supported, as are LINE, Skype, Telegram, and even Twitter. Plus, you don’t have to just choose one—you can tell Drivemode to handle all of them for you when you’re in the car. No matter where your message comes in, Drivemode has the ability to read it to you aloud, and respond for you without you taking your hands off the wheel for an instant. The video above shows you how seamless it really is, and how it all works.

Of course, if you’re of the thought that any messages while you’re driving are distractions, you can tell Drivemode to silence all of your messages and auto-respond to them with a notification that you’re unavailable and you’ll get back to them as soon as you can, or that you’re driving and will respond when you get to your destination. As always, Drivemode is free, and available now at Google Play. Hit the link below to check it out.

Drivemode (Free) | Google Play via Drivemode

What Actually Happens When You Block Someone on Your iPhone

The iPhone has a built-in blocking feature, but have you ever wondered what exactly happens on the other end when you block someone? MacRumors decided to figure it out.

First off, when a blocked number tries to send you a text message, it won’t go through, and they will likely never see the “delivered” note. On your end, you’ll see nothing at all. As far as phone calls are concerned, a blocked call goes directly to voice mail. On your end, you’ll get a special “blocked messages” folder in your voice mail inbox if they leave a message, but you won’t get a notification they called.

What happens when you block someone on your iPhone? | YouTube


Invi Richens Text Messages With Link, Photo, YouTube Previews

Android: While Whatsapp and other alternative texting apps are great for sharing links and pics, the humble SMS is lagging behind. Well, not if you have Invi, which makes text messages a multimedia-rich experience.

Invi has an image-rich approach to text messaging. Each contact gets a wide cover photo. When you send or receive a link, Invi fetches a preview, complete with a photo from that article—and you can open the link through an internal browser too. Similarly, shared photos are displayed in a large, screen-wide format, which you can tap to enlarge. And finally, sharing YouTube videos is made a better experience by allowing in-app video playback. However, it didn’t work with Vimeo and other video services in our test. And yeah, you can store all those links and photos in a vault for easy sharing later.

There are also a few swipe gestures and other tidbits included, but they don’t add to the experience much. Invi requires you to sign up if you want to share images from your phone’s gallery, with the benefit that you can send messages to other Invi users for free, over an internet connection.

Invi (Free) | Google Play Store via Android Awesomeness

Kitestring Notifies Your Emergency Contacts If You Go Dark

Kitestring Notifies Your Emergency Contacts If You Go Dark

If you’re going on a solo trip or even for a walk at night, it’s a good idea to let a loved one know you’re safe (or possibly not). Kitestring is a simple webapp that checks up on you and sends a text message to your emergency contacts if you don’t respond by a designated time.

Enter your ETA and Kitestring will send you a text message to reply to. You can extend your check in time via SMS or check in early. If you don’t respond to Kitestring’s text message, your emergency contact(s) will get your customizable alert message.

The free and open source site offers peace of mind, especially for those adventurous types and their families and friends. Instead of having to check up on each other just to say "I made it safe," Kitestring does the checking up for you.

Kitestring via PSFK

Gliph Adds Encrypted, Private Web Chat to Its Mobile Messaging Service

Android/iOS/Web: Encrypted chat service Gliph already gives you disposable emails and secures your mobile messages, but their new GliphMe service lets you chat privately with anyone, even if they’re not using Gliph.

Here’s how it works: GliphMe lets Gliph users create a short link that they can give to anyone they want to talk to privately. When someone clicks that link, they’re presented with a private Gliph chatbox that they can use to communicate with you instantly. They type, and as they send their message, it’s routed to you in Gliph, on your phone. When the message comes in, you’ll get a push notification that a new encrypted message has arrived. From there, you can respond and chat with them like any other IM service or texting app—only they’re using the web interface, you’re using your phone (and getting notifications when they send messages), and the conversation is completely private.

Ideally, the service is useful anytime you’re talking to someone normally—via Twitter or Facebook or even IM—and you need to go off the record or talk about something privately that’s important; whether it’s the secret plans for your world domination scheme, or you just don’t feel comfortable messaging your credit card number or something else highly personal publicly. Hit the link below to give the new feature a try, or sign up for Gliph if you’re not currently a user.

Gliph.me

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

If you send more text and photo messages with your smartphone than you actually place calls, you may already have a favorite free texting app or service that you prefer. After all, SMS and MMS cost money to send (and sometimes, to receive), and if you can do it for free, why wouldn’t you? This week we’re going to look at five of the best alternative texting apps and services, based on your nominations.

Earlier in the week we asked you which alternative texting apps you preferred when you want to communicate with friends without spending a ton of money. You responded with tons of great nominations, but we only have room for the top five. Here’s what you said, in no particular order:

WhatsApp

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

WhatsApp is a cross-platform messaging system that supports Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry devices, among others. The service is backed by hundreds of millions of active users, and allows you to send text, photo, and voice/video messages to individuals and groups for free using mobile data or Wi-Fi. As soon as you install it, the app compares all of the phone numbers on your phone against known users and adds your friends to your contact list. Messages to any other WhatsApp user are completely free (as long as you have a current WhatsApp subscription).

Like most services of this nature, WhatsApp cannot send or receive messages from non-WhatsApp users, and if you need to communicate with a friend who doesn’t use WhatsApp, you’re back to traditional SMS or MMS. WhatsApp is free to download and use for the first year, and you’ll need a $0.99/yr subscription after that to continue using it.


Viber

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

Viber may be a solid SMS replacement service, but it actually does more than just text and picture messages. It’s cross-platform, and supports Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry, and more, and even features desktop clients for WIndows and OS X so you can send, receive, and keep track of your messages on your computer as well as on your mobile device. Viber also has millions of users, and in addition to text and photo messages, it allows you to exchange video and audio messages, and even place VoIP calls to other Viber users (Viber cannot communicate with non-Viber users). All of those communications are free—as long as the person you’re talking to is also a Viber user.

When you install it, the app scans your address book for phone numbers (since all Viber users are registered by number) and syncs any other Viber users with your friends list. Viber uses Wi-Fi and mobile data, of course, and bypasses any SMS limits or costs imposed by your carrier. Viber is completely free and ad-free.


ChompSMS/Textra

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

ChompSMS and Textra are both Android only, from the same developers, but they’re very different apps. ChompSMS is a simple, minimal, and functional SMS replacement service. Instead of sending messages through your carrier’s network as SMS, Chomp uses its own network to send text messages to anyone you want—regardless of whether they use ChompSMS—for their own rates. The service is ideal for people who have pre-paid plans or who have carriers that make you pay a ton for text messages, and you can check their rates here to see if it would be cost effective for you to sign up. The upside is that you can send messages to anyone, no matter what service they use, but the downside is that it still costs money.

It’s also important to mention that Chomp is really old and out of date—the developers may have abandoned it in favor of their new project, Textra. Textra is a bit more modern, supports MMS and group messages, and has more modern features, but it’s really just a replacement for your existing SMS interface, as it sends messages through your carrier’s traditional SMS and MMS channels.


Facebook Messenger

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

Facebook is closing on a billion active users, and Facebook messenger allows you to connect with any other Facebook user for free, bypassing traditional SMS and MMS channels completely. The Facebook Messenger app supports Android, iOS, and Blackberry, and essentially gives you a mobile version of Facebook messages on the go. You can use it to communicate with your friends on Facebook who are also using the app, or you can use it to send and receive messages with friends who aren’t using Facebook at all. Facebook Messenger also has a Windows desktop client that allows you to keep up with the messages you’re sending through Facebook without picking up your phone.

Depending on where you are, you can use Facebook Messenger with just a name and a phone number, and even if you don’t have the app installed, you can respond to messages sent to you using Messenger by confirming your phone number with Facebook. The app supports text, images, and location sharing, and even Wi-Fi voice calls. It works best when everyone you know is also using Facebook Messenger (and won’t cost you a dime if they are), but it won’t stop you if they’re not (in which case it’ll route your message out to traditional channels).


Google Voice/Google Hangouts

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

Google Voice and Google Hangouts operate in very different ways, but we decided to combine them because Hangouts is very clearly the direction that Google is interested in going, and Voice may very well come along for the ride. Voice, among its many many other benefits, gives you a way to send and receive SMS messages without going through your carrier’s SMS channels, see and respond to them on your PC in your Google Voice account. Hangouts on the other hand offers a completely data and Wi-Fi driven text replacement, which is more like a combination of IM, group texting, location sharing, photo sharing, and more, all available on your iOS or Android smartphone and on the desktop through any Google service or Google Talk.

While Voice can still handle calls, and those calls are completely free (within the US and Canada, international calls are subject to Google’s rates, but are almost always lower than carrier rates), SMS messages sent to your Google Voice number live in Google Voice, and messages sent between Google Talk/Hangouts users stay in the Hangouts app. Both types of messages are available online, but most people consider it just a matter of time before they’re merged, especially since Google Voice users can answer calls using Hangouts (although you can’t place outbound calls from Hangouts). Still, if you have an Android phone or have Hangouts installed (or have any Google service open in a desktop web browser), you can chat instantly, send photos and video, bring other people in on the conversation, and even start a video call completely for free. If you prefer using a service to send SMS that doesn’t cost you money and won’t go through your carrier, Google Voice is a great option too.


There you have it. Now that you’ve seen the nominees, it’s time to put them to an all-out vote to determine the community favorite.

Honorable mentions this week go out to Line, which is exceptionally popular in Japan, where it’s based. It’s not limited to Japan though—it has over 200 million users in over 40 countries, and offers free calls, text, picture, video, and audio messages. It supports Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, and also features desktop clients for Windows and OS X so you can keep up with your friends on your desktop while your smartphone is charging or away from your fingertips. It missed the top five by a few nominations, but those of you who nominated it praised it for its ease of use and personalization options.

Also worth mentioning is the previously covered Gliph, not so much a full SMS replacement service like many of the above, but it does allow you to create a "cloak," which protects your identity, and send completely encrypted chats to anyone else. The key is, you’ll need to know their cloak to use it, and as a bonus, the service allows you to send Bitcoin payments to other people. How useful that actually is is up to you. Still, the ability to create disposable addresses and encrypted chats is nice.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it’s not because we hate it—it’s because it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com.

Photo by Melina Manfrinatti.

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

If you send more text and photo messages with your smartphone than you actually place calls, you may already have a favorite free texting app or service that you prefer. After all, SMS and MMS cost money to send (and sometimes, to receive), and if you can do it for free using mobile data or Wi-Fi, why wouldn’t you? This week we’re going to look at five of the best alternative texting apps and services, based on your nominations.

Earlier in the week we asked you which alternative texting apps you preferred when you want to communicate with friends without spending a ton of money. You responded with tons of great nominations, but we only have room for the top five. Here’s what you said, in no particular order:

WhatsApp

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

WhatsApp is a cross-platform messaging system that supports Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry devices, among others. The service is backed by hundreds of millions of active users, and allows you to send text, photo, and voice/video messages to individuals and groups for free using mobile data or Wi-Fi. As soon as you install it, the app compares all of the phone numbers on your phone against known users and adds your friends to your contact list. Messages to any other WhatsApp user are completely free (as long as you have a current WhatsApp subscription).

Like most services of this nature, WhatsApp cannot send or receive messages from non-WhatsApp users, and if you need to communicate with a friend who doesn’t use WhatsApp, you’re back to traditional SMS or MMS. WhatsApp is free to download and use for the first year, and you’ll need a $0.99/yr subscription after that to continue using it.


Viber

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

Viber may be a solid SMS replacement service, but it actually does more than just text and picture messages. It’s cross-platform, and supports Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry, and more, and even features desktop clients for WIndows and OS X so you can send, receive, and keep track of your messages on your computer as well as on your mobile device. Viber also has millions of users, and in addition to text and photo messages, it allows you to exchange video and audio messages, and even place VoIP calls to other Viber users (Viber cannot communicate with non-Viber users). All of those communications are free—as long as the person you’re talking to is also a Viber user.

When you install it, the app scans your address book for phone numbers (since all Viber users are registered by number) and syncs any other Viber users with your friends list. Viber uses Wi-Fi and mobile data, of course, and bypasses any SMS limits or costs imposed by your carrier. Viber is completely free and ad-free.


ChompSMS/Textra

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

ChompSMS and Textra are both Android only, from the same developers, but they’re very different apps. ChompSMS is a simple, minimal, and functional SMS replacement service. Instead of sending messages through your carrier’s network as SMS, Chomp uses its own network to send text messages to anyone you want—regardless of whether they use ChompSMS—for their own rates. The service is ideal for people who have pre-paid plans or who have carriers that make you pay a ton for text messages, and you can check their rates here to see if it would be cost effective for you to sign up. The upside is that you can send messages to anyone, no matter what service they use, but the downside is that it still costs money.

It’s also important to mention that Chomp is really old and out of date—the developers may have abandoned it in favor of their new project, Textra. Textra is a bit more modern, supports MMS and group messages, and has more modern features, but it’s really just a replacement for your existing SMS interface, as it sends messages through your carrier’s traditional SMS and MMS channels.


Facebook Messenger

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

Facebook is closing on a billion active users, and Facebook messenger allows you to connect with any other Facebook user for free, bypassing traditional SMS and MMS channels completely. The Facebook Messenger app supports Android, iOS, and Blackberry, and essentially gives you a mobile version of Facebook messages on the go. You can use it to communicate with your friends on Facebook who are also using the app, or you can use it to send and receive messages with friends who aren’t using Facebook at all. Facebook Messenger also has a Windows desktop client that allows you to keep up with the messages you’re sending through Facebook without picking up your phone.

Depending on where you are, you can use Facebook Messenger with just a name and a phone number, and even if you don’t have the app installed, you can respond to messages sent to you using Messenger by confirming your phone number with Facebook. The app supports text, images, and location sharing, and even Wi-Fi voice calls. It works best when everyone you know is also using Facebook Messenger (and won’t cost you a dime if they are), but it won’t stop you if they’re not (in which case it’ll route your message out to traditional channels).


Google Voice/Google Hangouts

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

Google Voice and Google Hangouts operate in very different ways, but we decided to combine them because Hangouts is very clearly the direction that Google is interested in going, and Voice may very well come along for the ride. Voice, among its many many other benefits, gives you a way to send and receive SMS messages without going through your carrier’s SMS channels, see and respond to them on your PC in your Google Voice account. Hangouts on the other hand offers a completely data and Wi-Fi driven text replacement, which is more like a combination of IM, group texting, location sharing, photo sharing, and more, all available on your iOS or Android smartphone and on the desktop through any Google service or Google Talk.

While Voice can still handle calls, and those calls are completely free (within the US and Canada, international calls are subject to Google’s rates, but are almost always lower than carrier rates), SMS messages sent to your Google Voice number live in Google Voice, and messages sent between Google Talk/Hangouts users stay in the Hangouts app. Both types of messages are available online, but most people consider it just a matter of time before they’re merged, especially since Google Voice users can answer calls using Hangouts (although you can’t place outbound calls from Hangouts). Still, if you have an Android phone or have Hangouts installed (or have any Google service open in a desktop web browser), you can chat instantly, send photos and video, bring other people in on the conversation, and even start a video call completely for free. If you prefer using a service to send SMS that doesn’t cost you money and won’t go through your carrier, Google Voice is a great option too.


There you have it. Now that you’ve seen the nominees, it’s time to put them to an all-out vote to determine the community favorite.

Honorable mentions this week go out to Line, which is exceptionally popular in Japan, where it’s based. It’s not limited to Japan though—it has over 200 million users in over 40 countries, and offers free calls, text, picture, video, and audio messages. It supports Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, and also features desktop clients for Windows and OS X so you can keep up with your friends on your desktop while your smartphone is charging or away from your fingertips. It missed the top five by a few nominations, but those of you who nominated it praised it for its ease of use and personalization options.

Also worth mentioning is the previously covered Gliph, not so much a full SMS replacement service like many of the above, but it does allow you to create a "cloak," which protects your identity, and send completely encrypted chats to anyone else. The key is, you’ll need to know their cloak to use it, and as a bonus, the service allows you to send Bitcoin payments to other people. How useful that actually is is up to you. Still, the ability to create disposable addresses and encrypted chats is nice.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it’s not because we hate it—it’s because it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com.

Photo by Melina Manfrinatti.

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

If you send more text and photo messages with your smartphone than you actually place calls, you may already have a favorite free texting app or service that you prefer. After all, SMS and MMS cost money to send (and sometimes, to receive), and if you can do it for free using mobile data or Wi-Fi, why wouldn’t you? This week we’re going to look at five of the best alternative texting apps and services, based on your nominations.

Earlier in the week we asked you which alternative texting apps you preferred when you want to communicate with friends without spending a ton of money. You responded with tons of great nominations, but we only have room for the top five. Here’s what you said, in no particular order:

WhatsApp

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

WhatsApp is a cross-platform messaging system that supports Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry devices, among others. The service is backed by hundreds of millions of active users, and allows you to send text, photo, and voice/video messages to individuals and groups for free using mobile data or Wi-Fi. As soon as you install it, the app compares all of the phone numbers on your phone against known users and adds your friends to your contact list. Messages to any other WhatsApp user are completely free (as long as you have a current WhatsApp subscription).

Like most services of this nature, WhatsApp cannot send or receive messages from non-WhatsApp users, and if you need to communicate with a friend who doesn’t use WhatsApp, you’re back to traditional SMS or MMS. WhatsApp is free to download and use for the first year, and you’ll need a $0.99/yr subscription after that to continue using it.


Viber

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

Viber may be a solid SMS replacement service, but it actually does more than just text and picture messages. It’s cross-platform, and supports Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry, and more, and even features desktop clients for WIndows and OS X so you can send, receive, and keep track of your messages on your computer as well as on your mobile device. Viber also has millions of users, and in addition to text and photo messages, it allows you to exchange video and audio messages, and even place VoIP calls to other Viber users (Viber cannot communicate with non-Viber users). All of those communications are free—as long as the person you’re talking to is also a Viber user.

When you install it, the app scans your address book for phone numbers (since all Viber users are registered by number) and syncs any other Viber users with your friends list. Viber uses Wi-Fi and mobile data, of course, and bypasses any SMS limits or costs imposed by your carrier. Viber is completely free and ad-free.


ChompSMS/Textra

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

ChompSMS and Textra are both Android only, from the same developers, but they’re very different apps. ChompSMS is a simple, minimal, and functional SMS replacement service. Instead of sending messages through your carrier’s network as SMS, Chomp uses its own network to send text messages to anyone you want—regardless of whether they use ChompSMS—for their own rates. The service is ideal for people who have pre-paid plans or who have carriers that make you pay a ton for text messages, and you can check their rates here to see if it would be cost effective for you to sign up. The upside is that you can send messages to anyone, no matter what service they use, but the downside is that it still costs money.

It’s also important to mention that Chomp is really old and out of date—the developers may have abandoned it in favor of their new project, Textra. Textra is a bit more modern, supports MMS and group messages, and has more modern features, but it’s really just a replacement for your existing SMS interface, as it sends messages through your carrier’s traditional SMS and MMS channels.


Facebook Messenger

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

Facebook is closing on a billion active users, and Facebook messenger allows you to connect with any other Facebook user for free, bypassing traditional SMS and MMS channels completely. The Facebook Messenger app supports Android, iOS, and Blackberry, and essentially gives you a mobile version of Facebook messages on the go. You can use it to communicate with your friends on Facebook who are also using the app, or you can use it to send and receive messages with friends who aren’t using Facebook at all. Facebook Messenger also has a Windows desktop client that allows you to keep up with the messages you’re sending through Facebook without picking up your phone.

Depending on where you are, you can use Facebook Messenger with just a name and a phone number, and even if you don’t have the app installed, you can respond to messages sent to you using Messenger by confirming your phone number with Facebook. The app supports text, images, and location sharing, and even Wi-Fi voice calls. It works best when everyone you know is also using Facebook Messenger (and won’t cost you a dime if they are), but it won’t stop you if they’re not (in which case it’ll route your message out to traditional channels).


Google Voice/Google Hangouts

Five Best Alternative Texting Apps

Google Voice and Google Hangouts operate in very different ways, but we decided to combine them because Hangouts is very clearly the direction that Google is interested in going, and Voice may very well come along for the ride. Voice, among its many many other benefits, gives you a way to send and receive SMS messages without going through your carrier’s SMS channels, see and respond to them on your PC in your Google Voice account. Hangouts on the other hand offers a completely data and Wi-Fi driven text replacement, which is more like a combination of IM, group texting, location sharing, photo sharing, and more, all available on your iOS or Android smartphone and on the desktop through any Google service or Google Talk.

While Voice can still handle calls, and those calls are completely free (within the US and Canada, international calls are subject to Google’s rates, but are almost always lower than carrier rates), SMS messages sent to your Google Voice number live in Google Voice, and messages sent between Google Talk/Hangouts users stay in the Hangouts app. Both types of messages are available online, but most people consider it just a matter of time before they’re merged, especially since Google Voice users can answer calls using Hangouts (although you can’t place outbound calls from Hangouts). Still, if you have an Android phone or have Hangouts installed (or have any Google service open in a desktop web browser), you can chat instantly, send photos and video, bring other people in on the conversation, and even start a video call completely for free. If you prefer using a service to send SMS that doesn’t cost you money and won’t go through your carrier, Google Voice is a great option too.


There you have it. Now that you’ve seen the nominees, it’s time to put them to an all-out vote to determine the community favorite.

Honorable mentions this week go out to Line, which is exceptionally popular in Japan, where it’s based. It’s not limited to Japan though—it has over 200 million users in over 40 countries, and offers free calls, text, picture, video, and audio messages. It supports Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, and also features desktop clients for Windows and OS X so you can keep up with your friends on your desktop while your smartphone is charging or away from your fingertips. It missed the top five by a few nominations, but those of you who nominated it praised it for its ease of use and personalization options.

Also worth mentioning is the previously covered Gliph, not so much a full SMS replacement service like many of the above, but it does allow you to create a "cloak," which protects your identity, and send completely encrypted chats to anyone else. The key is, you’ll need to know their cloak to use it, and as a bonus, the service allows you to send Bitcoin payments to other people. How useful that actually is is up to you. Still, the ability to create disposable addresses and encrypted chats is nice.

Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.

The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it’s not because we hate it—it’s because it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at tips+hivefive@lifehacker.com.

Photo by Melina Manfrinatti.