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Google Blocks Free SMS iPhone App

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 9 comments

Google launched its SMS messaging through Gmail Chat service in December 2008.  This was quickly regarded by the public as a great alternative to costly carrier fees for SMS messaging and a way to cheaply communicate via SMS with out of country users.  The original intent of the service was for a Gmail user to send "Chat" messages using the Gmail Chat interface, which would then be sent by Google as SMS to the recipient's mobile phone.

Developers for the Apple iPhone platform were quick to take advantage of this open protocol and developed applications that allowed for mobile users to send, what was essentially free, SMS messages to anyone in the world and bypassing their carrier's associated charges.  Data charges would still apply; however, traditional SMS fees did not.

One such developer was InnerFence who had created the application, "Infinite SMS", which took advantage of Google's SMS feature.  The application was released on February 12, 2009 and had risen to the "iTunes Top Ten Paid Applications" list for 11 days prior to its removal from the iTunes Apps Store.

Its removal had nothing to do with Apple or InnerFence, but everything to do with Google's decision to block all third party applications from using the Gmail Chat's SMS API. According to a statement issued to InnerFence, Google's spokesperson said that they were not singling out InnerFence but rather making a conscious decision to block third party SMS applications since Google is paying the bill and the service was very much still in testing.

Google gave InnerFence a single day's notice prior to blocking its successful application, and thereby rendering all purchased copies useless.  The first notice was given on March 9, 2009 with blocks occurring the very next day.  InnerFence states that open communications were had but Google's decision still stands.  A complete blockage of the protocol was done by March 11, 2009.

InnerFence has stated that due to Apple Apps Store policy, refunds are not allowed to be issued by developers.  Which would mean that those who purchased the $0.99 application are out of luck.  There is no word on whether Google will eventually open up the protocol to third parties for Gmail Chat's SMS feature again, which would once again allow Infinite SMS to function. Currently, the SMS protocol cannot even be accessed using mobile Safari, leaving your only option for free SMS to be from a computer and only using Google's Gmail interface.

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  • 0 Hide
    A Stoner , March 17, 2009 9:21 PM
    How did Google market the free SMS over internet?
  • -2 Hide
    mrubermonkey , March 17, 2009 10:10 PM
    What ever happened to not being evil?
  • 1 Hide
    eklipz330 , March 18, 2009 1:34 AM
    being evil to an already evil company makes you good. DONT YOU KNOW THIS? i think its newtons fourth law or something..
  • 0 Hide
    Tindytim , March 18, 2009 4:26 AM
    I don't see how this is 'evil'. Google is keeping it's competition in the mobile OS market from benefiting from their services. Why would you let a competitor get a parasitic benefit from your work?

    eklipz330being evil to an already evil company makes you good. DONT YOU KNOW THIS? i think its newtons fourth law or something..

    No, that's Netwon's 7th. Newton's 4th law is freedom of expression.
  • 0 Hide
    hillarymakesmecry , March 18, 2009 10:40 AM
    Text messaging is such a rip off. It costs companies essentially nothing to provide and they make an absolute fortune off of it. I refuse to pay for it. I'm guessing eventually the government will get invoved and prevent companies from price fixing. Twenty cents a message is ridiculous and it all goes to profit.

    I feel sorry for the million or so people who have some useless software on their Iphone.
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , March 18, 2009 3:48 PM
    mrubermonkeyWhat ever happened to not being evil?

    Are you talking about the users of InfiniteSMS? These people were sending SMS messages for free on their end, but whoever they were sending them to had to pay to receive them. Imagine if your friend got this service and started sending you hundreds of txts a day. How much would that have cost you? A minimum $15/month if you have an unlimited txt message plan, otherwise possibly lots more.

    Quite frankly, the idea of someone spamming my phone with SMS messages that cost them nothing is scary. I think Google (and Yahoo and anyone else) should discontinue all SMS services. Leave SMS on the phone.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 18, 2009 4:57 PM
    Cell providers just need to stop charging for SMS which costs them nothing. I was thinking about getting an iPhone and asked it texting is part of the unlimited data plan. Why wouldn't it be, right? It'd be a 0.000000001% of the total data bandwith. Well, no, it's an extra $20/mo on top of the $30/mo data charge. No thanks. I'll stick with talking on my phone.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 19, 2009 5:05 AM
    There is a new app called iText on the app store that is even better than Infinite SMS! It can send and receive free text messages all around the US but also to more than 50 countries around the world. Plus, you can send photo text messages! Even infinite sms couldn't do that!

    Check it out at www.bocosoft.net
  • -1 Hide
    shahriarhkhan , April 21, 2010 8:16 PM
    Every one having the same problem regarding hiding or locking text messages on iPhones. Recently I downloaded a program from http://faketexts.com/ and it hides the iPhone SMS button and replaces it with a fake one that you can edit. Basically it doesn’t show all the girls I am talking to.
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