I was quoted in The Straits Times for the use of smartphone apps to send messages to my contacts as opposed to sending SMS.

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Before the interview, I tweeted that Twitter was like an SMS service for friends who are overseas especially when they send you a DM or direct message for short. On the iPad, Twitter will beep when you get a DM from a fellow tweeter.

Besides SMS, you could also make free phone calls on your smartphone if you have the right apps.

These apps have sort of matured in the registration process. During the Skype years, you need to sign up for an account with a nickname that other users can find you.

These apps, however, make use of your phone number as the nickname and this means all you need to do is to search for other users in your address book via their phone numbers.

The cost savings for using such apps for free communication on your smartphone is more valuable when you are overseas and would like to stay in touch with your love ones back home or with your office.

The drawbacks are that you would need Internet access for these apps to work and the opposing contact having the same apps.

Data roaming is an expensive affair, but there are ways to overcome this. I usually get prepaid 3G data service from the respective countries’ telco if the the stay is more than three days.

The downside of this is that you lose your mobile roaming services. If you do not want to be charged overseas call in or sms, it is best to make the switch.

Otherwise, you could head down to the nearest cafe with free wifi to make that phone call or sms.

The most popular free phone to phone app for the iPhone is Viber. Currently the app is for iPhone to iPhone. At the Viber forum, however, it is mentioned at Viber’s forum that support for Android phone is in the works.

Whatsapp remains my choice for sending free sms. It is available for the iPhone, Android, Blackberry and even Nokia Symbian phones and it allows sms to be send over different platforms.

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