It’s a workaround for a kid with an iPod Touch who doesn’t yet have a cellphone: Textfree. Writes CNET’s Michelle Meyers of her 10-year-old daughter, the app “assigns her a real phone number, and lets her send and receive texts for free.” Is there a catch? Not really – unless texting is the reason why you didn’t get the kid a cellphone in the first place (at least s/he can’t text while driving yet!). “To text, she needs to be connected to Wi-Fi (which she says ‘is basically everywhere’), and she needs to deal with ads bannered across the bottom of the app. (She says she doesn’t ‘even notice.’)” This is a trend now, Meyers reports. Textfree is one of “a handful” of mobile texting apps available for the iTouch, including Gogii’s TextPlus, but the only one that provides phone numbers (what every kid wants, right?). In the two months it has been able to, Textfree’s company Pinger has given out 1.6 million phone numbers, according to the article. “That’s as many wireless numbers as AT&T gave out to net new subscribers in April, May, and June…. Pinger is now sending out about 630 million text messages per month; 70% of those are sent from iPod Touches, and 30% are sent from iPhones. The median age of the app’s users is 18.” As for Pinger’s figures, 18% of its users say they’re 15-17 when they register, 18% 12-14, and 10% are 11 or under.
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My 10 year old daughter (user of textfree) started receiving messages under a friend’s user id that was not from her friend. The “person” asked my daughter a number of questions such as her name, age, where she lived, and requested she send a picture of herself. My daughter, her friend, and both sets of patents were together when we discovered this was a problem. I have rased issue to Pinger with no response. There seems to be a clear security breach with this Pinger app that needs to be investigated.
Thanks for pointing this out. Security flaws in apps is something we’re all going to have to be increasingly alert to.