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Depending on your device, it may be possible to send and receive instant messages on most popular messaging platforms – including AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Google Talk, and Yahoo Messenger.
If you have a Smartphone with a data plan (BlackBerry, Widows Mobile, Palm, iPhone etc.), chances are you can download messaging software developed for your device:
A list of messaging applications is available here.
Cnet Mobile Downloads is a great resource for both paid and free messenger applications for any number of devices. Agile Messenger (free trial available) is a popular application also supported by a number of devices, including Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones.
Make sure you have your iPhone updated to the latest firmware version. Use the App Store to search for ‘messenger.’ There are a wide variety of messaging apps available. One of the most popular is Palringo, which allows access to AIM, Google, and Yahoo messaging as well as several others from the same app.
A word of caution: make sure you have an unlimited data plan, or you may find a rude surprise when your next wireless bill arrives if you are an avid messenger.
So you don’t have a Smartphone with a data plan? All hope is not lost. Many non-Smartphones also have messaging capabilities beyond standard SMS and picture messaging.
Check your device for a menu option or icon labeled ‘Messaging’ or ‘IM.’ Software may also be available to download for your device if it is not pre-installed. As each wireless carrier and each phone is different, consult your wireless carrier for specifics. Some carriers charge up to $.20 per message, however, so if you plan on sending more than the occasional message, it may be well worth it to invest in a messaging plan if your carrier offers one.