Why Do People Still Text



  • @dafyre said:

    Do you consider things like Google Voice (which has now merged with Hangouts) to be texting? or is that messaging?

    Texting is a specific technology, the SMS protocol.



  • @dafyre said:

    Google Voice also solves a lot of the problems of being tied to a single device (not neccessariliy a single phone number, though!). I currently have 3 PCs, 2 Tablets, and a phone that all get messages to my Google Voice / Hangouts account.

    Google Voice is a completely third technology with no relationship to email or SMS. Much like What's App.



  • While texting has been around longer than Siri has, Those with the ability to use Siri can have it send the text, so no typing.

    That isn't practical for all - I do realize that. My AT&T plan has been the same plan for more than 10 years - I'm grandfathered into their true original unlimited plan. Texting costs me nothing more, and I roll something on the order of 500 minutes a month (last check I had 3000 rolled over minutes,... which do expire...)

    You can text someone (most of the time) if their carrier allow via email. Google Voice (GV) has an iPhone app, but also the web access. I can send as if it was a normal phone, from my cell or from my PC.

    I took a weekend out, and didn't have AT&T service.. but the Verizon hot spot did have spotty coverage. I was able to send a text via GV if I sat the hot spot right.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    We have the opposite issue in the US. Much of the US does not have cell coverage. And email is async so whenever you do get coverage it sends and receives, texting (at least no device I've seen) does this.

    When you say access in only 30% of the UK, do you mean open countryside?

    Cities as well. There are parts of central London where I can get decent cell coverage but can't get any 3G signal. I find 3G access very flaky, at least with my carrier (Vodafone). I find text generally more reliable.



  • Texting is Free in the US on most phone plans. Data is not.



  • @anonymous said:

    Texting is Free in the US on most phone plans. Data is not.

    At the time of the writing, texting was not free on most and especially not on the largest. Most plans that have free text also have free data. Data is now free even without a plan for some devices (iPads on Tmobile get data for free, for example.) Internet is available far and wide for free (libraries, cafes, McDonald's, etc.) but nowhere is cell phone service free.



  • Also, I was told that in the US is the only place you pay for incoming messages?

    That incoming messages are free everywhere else in the world?

    If this is true, then there is no forced costs, just don't reply 😉



  • @Carnival-Boy said:

    Cities as well. There are parts of central London where I can get decent cell coverage but can't get any 3G signal. I find 3G access very flaky, at least with my carrier (Vodafone). I find text generally more reliable.

    Ah, you mean just while on the phone. Yes, that makes sense. You should try TMobile, I had great coverage over London and I walked like six miles across it with nothing but my phone 🙂

    Having text as an emergency backup makes sense. But using it as the primary communications method is what I really mean. Since with email, even if you don't have service, you still get and send emails as service goes in and out. And at least here, I don't need 3G for email to work.



  • @anonymous said:

    Also, I was told that in the US is the only place you pay for incoming messages?

    That's likely true. It's a really important thing to consider that in America people are encouraged (or were) to use texting because if some people did it, it financially forced everyone to pay for plans to keep from getting billed for things that they could not disable. That's what happened to us. Other people kept sending us billable messages until we paid for a plan to stop it. It's literally a form of socialized extortion.



  • @anonymous said:

    That incoming messages are free everywhere else in the world?

    If this is true, then there is no forced costs, just don't reply 😉

    As long as you don't have an American phone, which most people here do.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    At the time of the writing, texting was not free on most and especially not on the largest.

    Verzion, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint all have free texting..... o_0



  • My parents have flip phones, so I still need texting for that.....



  • @anonymous said:

    My parents have flip phones, so I still need texting for that.....

    My dad does too, but he doesn't have good service so it is still email that reaches him reliably.



  • @anonymous said:

    Verzion, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint all have free texting..... o_0

    They did not at the time of the article.



  • The ubiquity of unlimited talk and text is a new thing.



  • @anonymous said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    At the time of the writing, texting was not free on most and especially not on the largest.

    Verzion, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint all have free texting..... o_0

    Verizon has free data now too, when texting went free, so did email on most carriers. TMobile remains the only one to have actually free (you don't pay anything) Internet. No one is offering text for free. Internet remains the free choice. Texting is now cheap and included with voice plans, as is Internet. But texting is not included with data plans.



  • @anonymous said:

    My parents have flip phones, so I still need texting for that.....

    Do they keep their phones with them at all times, even when home? I suppose if they don't have a computer and email that would make sense. I've not seen many people using flip phones as their primary gateway to the world in the US. In the third world I understand that non-Internet phones are common and the only standard thing. SMS is key there, but they went to SMS while waiting for the Internet (which isn't there yet) rather than going to it after having had the Internet.



  • I recognize the need to text people because other people only text. I'm not suggesting that many of us are not trapped with it. I have it and use it because lots of people in the family just don't check their email or have email (seriously, I feel like it is the dark ages, I've had email since I was 18 and before I worked in IT - everyone I know of my age had email just from going to college in that era) but my question is really.... at the base of the pyramid, what is making the people for whom there is no text dependency choose texting instead of cheaper, easier, more reliable communications methods that replaced texting decades ago?



  • I've heard from a few people that it is literally a rejection of technology by kids that is driving it, a desire to rebel by going backwards with technology. Part of the culture of "cool" to be behind (like hipsters, etc.)



  • And I'm not saying that texting doesn't continue to make sense as it always has.... for paging. Texting is the name for bidirectional paging. If you watch 30 Rock it is hilarious because they have that running gag about paging coming back and being cool again. And it's true, that's what has happened. People just don't use the term paging to refer to the messages anymore.



  • Your point about the sender choosing if the message is important or not, things being an emergency or not...

    To me this is the primary reason I use texts. Like you I disable notifications on new email, or else my phone would never shut up some days... but texts, like phone calls, I leave notifications enabled. This is the case for most people I converse with regularly.

    It's true that I'll use text messages for non quickly needed responses from time to time.. but normally if I'm sending a text I need or want an answer right now. Example, message the wife I'm going to the store does she want anything - this message is important enough for her immediate notice, but not so important to require a call to ensure she gives me an answer this instant.

    I'd say I'm equally frustrated by people who won't just call when they need something NOW. Instead they text you, and text you again and then maybe they'll call you - but more often than not the suddenly decide it's not that important and give up, though they generally would have gotten the answer they needed by calling instead (sometimes I don't hear the text tone, but will almost always hear the phone ringing it's longer ring tones - I suppose I could make the text tone more annoying and long).



  • @Dashrender said:

    Your point about the sender choosing if the message is important or not, things being an emergency or not...

    I agree. You receive much less spam through texting. I do get spam every couple months, but that is nothing compared to email. I don't see this as an issue. If you don't like texting, that is fine. What about the other people who do like it and it serves their purposes? Just because they communicate differently doesn't mean it's wrong. It is also old fashioned to use a telephone or to meet someone face to face, and we all know that is quite productive compared to text or email.



  • I don't and would be opposed to using texting for business, but for personal it's still quite handy.



  • @IRJ said:

    If you don't like texting, that is fine. What about the other people who do like it and it serves their purposes?

    Because it forces you into carrying devices and for many years, paying against my will, to do so. Email is free, texting is not. Now I have it with other plans, sometimes, but not always. Now that I travel a lot, texting is a problem again. There are whole blocks of time that I don't have access to it or the costs are like $1/message. And it makes people just have lots of things.



  • @MattSpeller said:

    I don't and would be opposed to using texting for business, but for personal it's still quite handy.

    Other than being forced into it, what handiness is there? I know of nothing that I can do with texting that email won't do, but a lot of things in the opposite direction like transparently handling dropped connections, crossing devices, being ubiquitously free, etc.



  • @IRJ said:

    It is also old fashioned to use a telephone or to meet someone face to face, and we all know that is quite productive compared to text or email.

    That's not comparable. Texting is just an archaic form of the same thing without the benefits of convergence. There is no technological advantage to texting (except for the obvious "sometimes you have access to one network instead of the other" that could be solved if texting wasn't holding back Internet adoption.)



  • @Dashrender said:

    Your point about the sender choosing if the message is important or not, things being an emergency or not...

    To me this is the primary reason I use texts. Like you I disable notifications on new email, or else my phone would never shut up some days... but texts, like phone calls, I leave notifications enabled. This is the case for most people I converse with regularly.

    Exactly, and because it is now used for the most trivial of communications, it's critical use as the alert mechanism for the most important communications is gone.



  • We've lost the "paging" functionality that SMS was designed for. It was an alert system when designed. It's been used to replace email in a bizarre way that it is not good for. It's harder to use, requires managing a second set of accounts, talks to the mailbox of a device rather than to a person.... it's complicated and confusing.



  • I added a new bullet:

    There is no means of identifying an SMS or MMS enabled phone number. The knowledge of this is transient, due to porting, and is kept completely by the end points.

    An email address is for email, we know its function. A phone number is for calling, we know its function. Using a voice identifier to mimic email behaviour is odd as there is nothing in the number that indicates if it can accept SMS or not.



  • @scottalanmiller it's vendor neutral & free for everyone (at least up here, I can't recall a smartphone plan that does not include unlimited texts at minimum)

    also it's much less... formal? than an email - sometimes I just want to fire off a quick message without having to title it and all the hooplah.