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Gmail users in South Africa are reporting that they can now send free SMSes from Google chat.
The reports are coming through even though South Africa is not listed among the countries supported by the service, which has been around since 2008.
At present, however, the service only allows you to send messages to MTN and 8ta numbers.
According to MyBroadband, any attempts to SMS Vodacom and Cell C numbers resulted in an error message.
Quite why Vodacom isn’t supported isn’t clear as the supporting website lists it as being supported in Mozambique, the DRC, and Tanzania.
Google SMS allows you to send free SMSes to a phone number as long as you have credits. Once you activate the service you are issued with 50 credits.
Want more credits? Then your contacts had better start replying to you. You get new credits every time they reply.
But what if you don’t have any mates who will reply to you? Google has a simple, if slightly ridiculous suggestion: SMS your Gmail account and reply to that message multiple times.
“Effectively, you’re buying more messages by paying your phone company for these outgoing messages,” its support page says.
Your whole Gmail conversation will appear the same as it would in any other chat window. These conversations are also stored in your Chat history just like regular chats.