Free text and talk apps – also referred to as “Burner” apps or Burner phone apps – have been gaining popularity in the past few years for different reasons. In this article we look into free text apps and how they provide consumers with free phone numbers enabling free texting and calling services to regular phone numbers as well as same-app users.
Burner apps are mobile applications that provide mobile numbers “over-the-top” (OTT) via an app that can be used discretely for any period of time and disabled or “burned” thereafter. Such apps don’t require a new SIM card or new mobile service and normally operate using existing wireless data service like WiFi and Cellular Data.
As the reliability and quality of service of wireless data networks have improved with 4G and LTE, OTT communication apps like WhatsApp and FaceTime managed to improve their offerings towards high quality voice, video and text. However such apps have to be normally associated with an existing phone number or email, and have limited reach to users of the same-app only. Such limitation was addressed by burner apps that could provide mobile number(s) with the app itself, with a free and/or low-cost option enabling their users to communicate with other phone numbers on top of the same-app users. Top free text, “burner” apps include Google Voice, Skype, TextNow, Textfree, Burner, textPlus and Hushed.
Use cases of burner apps
Burner apps started as burner phones that are disposable (literally) after a certain period of time. The main benefit of the original burner phones was to preserve the privacy and identity of the user by providing a disposable mobile number associated with a disposable phone. Such concept evolved to eventually become “burner” apps serving a wider range of use cases including:
- Free or low-cost texting and calling (VoIP) services using wireless broadband (WiFi or Cellular), for local and international use
- Second number for business use, whether short or long term and without using a second device or a new SIM card/service
- Short-term mobile numbers for eCommerce and online selling
- Private second number for offline or online dating
- One-time events
Besides working on any smartphone, burner apps also work on different smart devices effectively enabling any connected laptop or pad to have calling and texting features.
Top burner apps
Burner apps can be totally free (typically with online ads built into the app) or low-cost against a monthly subscription fee. Some burner apps only require cellular data or WiFi connectivity to function while others require an existing voice plan. In the following table we share a list of top burner apps.