Report: Gmail to Get Free Texting Today

Update: Gmail’s Free Texting: What Happened?

Google may have killed its free “Send to Phone” online text messaging tool, but now it’s replacing it with an even easier SMS solution, according to published reports.

Gmail SMS chat is expected to debut today, tech blog Webmonkey reports. The service — as-of-yet unannounced on the official Gmail Blog — will let you send text messages to cell phones directly from Gmail’s chat interface, the blog says.

Once active, Webmonkey says the function will show up in the Labs menu within Gmail. (As of now, it’s not popping up in mine.) Supposedly, once it’s running, you can then just type in any mobile number, and your message will be delivered as a text. Webmonkey says the message will come from one of several thousands of reserved 406 area code numbers. The same number, it says, will remain constant with your account.

If the service works as touted, this actually sounds pretty handy. The description indicates that the mobile user will be able to text back to you, and their message will pop up in your Gmail chat window — just like any other normal chat message.

There are several other free Web-based texting tools around, but for those of us who have Gmail open often, this functionality will be a welcomed addition, both in the convenient placement and in the interactive back-and-forth chat ability already available in AOL’s Instant Messenger platform. Let’s hope it debuts as predicted — and doesn’t get beaten down by the climbing number of sneaky fees popping up in the text messaging world and costing companies extra for these sorts of services.

(Image: Webmonkey)

Update: Gmail’s Free Texting: What Happened?