No Such Thing as a Free Text: Google Kills Free SMS iPhone App

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If the best things in life are free, then Inner Fence’s “Infinite SMS” app for the iPhone was really the bee’s knees. Though it cost users 99 cents through the iTunes store, it also allowed them to send free, unlimited text messages by piggybacking on a feature Google had enabled for Gmail back in December, rather than through traditional carrier services.

Trouble is, Google wasn’t a fan of that.

As of Wednesday, Google has shut down outside access to its SMS messaging system, killing Infinite SMS in the process. “While Google is supportive of third party apps, we’ve decided we can’t support this particular usage of our system at this time,” Google wrote in an official statement posted on Inner Fence’s blog. “SMS chat is still just an experiment in the early testing stages in Gmail Labs. We’re blocking all external XMPP clients from sending SMS; we’re not singling out Inner Fence.”

The app, which was released in early February, had climbed to Apple’s list of the top 10 paid apps before Inner Fence removed it from sale on Monday, after receiving advance warning from Google that it would stop functioning later in the week.

Though the protocols that allowed outside developers to harness Google’s free SMS message have been blocked, the feature still remains built into Gmail, where users can continue to send free text messages to friends through their browsers.