Google has introduced a nifty feature in Gmail that is going to please lots of people. Gmail now allows you to send free SMS to your contacts and receive replies through Gmail chat. The service is not new as it was available earlier but now it is rolled out widely.
Free SMS from Gmail chat is available in around 50 countries including India. Google lists that the free SMS service is available to all major India carriers, but it doesn’t seem so as I was not able to send to Airtel or BSNL networks. It seems to support Aircel, Idea, Loop Mobile, MTS, Reliance, Tata Docomo and Vodafone in some circles. It is strange that the biggest carries Airtel and BSNL are not supported, it might be the issue with those carriers and not with Google I guess.
Using the free SMS in Gmail is easy, all you have to do is login to Gmail, in the chart window type your contact name and select “Send SMS”, a chat window appears you can type a message and send. You can receive replies to messages you send to your contacts.
Although the service is free there are some restrictions. You will get 50 SMS credits initially, and every time you send a message your credit count goes down by one. When you receive a reply to your message in chat your credit count goes up by five, to a maximum of 50. If your SMS credit goes down to zero, you will get one credit after 24 hours. Google is suggesting a workaround to get the messages, “you can always send an SMS to your own phone, and then reply to that message multiple times. Every time you send a reply message, your SMS credit is increased by five. Effectively, you’re buying more messages by paying your phone company for these outgoing messages.”