Last week I was on vacation with my family, and we decided to keep in touch via text message when we were not all together. We wound up using the fantastic GroupMe app, which allows you to set up a group text - so everyone gets all text messages, and when you reply to one text message, everyone sees it. I highly recommend GroupMe for those occasions when you might want to text a larger group of people all at once.
It got me thinking about text messaging on the iPad - although you cannot make phone calls with your iPad (unless you're using an app like Skype), there are a number of apps that not only allow you to send text messages for free, you get your own phone number you can give out to your friends - again, for free. If you are a heavy text message user, programs like these can save you some money off your phone bill.
My favorite app is TextNow (free, also available for the iPhone), which is dead simple to use. Just register for the service, and you'll be given your own email address and an option to receive your own phone number. Once you're set up, texting is just as simple as it is on your cell phone. If you're a Google Voice user, you can use your Google Voice number to send and receive text messages; here's a quick tutorial on how to set it up. Just like regular text messaging, you can send pictures and emoticons.
Another great app is TextFree - it's even easier to use than TextNow, if that's possible. It offers many of the same features, except you do not get your own email address. However, the iPhone app offers something that TextNow doesn't - free telephone calls. Okay, it's really only free to call other TextFree users (just like Skype) - you'll have to buy minutes to call other people.
Either way, those of you who send lots of text messages, to your children or others, should consider using one of these apps - they can save you a bunch of money on text messaging fees, and now you can get text messages whenever you're using your iPad.