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Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to update twitter for free on your mobile phone - an update

This is an update to this post, made at some point last year. It gave a little bit of advice on updating Twitter on your mobile phone.

In summary, I pointed out that if you had a 3 mobile account (either PAYG or a contract) then you could use 3's special MSN Messenger software and send unlimited instant messages to your contacts for free (i.e. above and beyond any data or message allowances already on your contract). I then suggested that you could sign up (for free, of course) to ping.fm and use that as a go-between to send messages from your mobile to your Twitter account for absolutely no extra cost whatsoever (it doesn't even eat into your data allowance).

Now, having used that particular method for around five months, I have some comments to make:

The first thing I have to say is that I'm not that impressed with ping.fm's MSN Messenger bot: It's almost never online when I want to tweet, which makes it next to useless. So you may think that my original post has been rendered similarly useless?

Not so. You see, if you're a 3 mobile customer you can also use the Skype instant messaging (and internet telephony) software to send and receive unlimited free text messages (and internet phone calls). The good news is that there's also a ping.fm bot for Skype and, in my experience, it actually works. Since getting my new phone*, I've been using Skype to post tweets via the ping.fm bot and so far I haven't had any problems.


So how do I Tweet using Skype on my 3 mobile phone?
Yes, yes, yes, this has been mostly cut-and-pasted from this post, but the process is almost exactly the same so what do you want me to do?
  1. Go here to find out how to get Skype on your phone.
  2. Create an account at Ping.fm. Follow the instructions to add your twitter account to your social networks list.
  3. Go to 'your dashboard' at ping.fm, scroll down and find Skype under 'Services / Tools'. Click it, and follow the instructions.
  4. Log in to your Skype account (you can do this on your phone or on your computer; makes no difference) and add 'ping.fm' as a contact. This is a 'bot'.
  5. When you set up Skype at your ping.fm account (step 3), it will have given you a verification code. Send this to the bot you have just added to your Skype list. The bot will appear to be offline, but send it anyway. You should get a rather polite message to say that your code has been accepted.
You're done! Whenever you want to update twitter while you're away from a computer, just open up Skype on your phone and send a message to the bot. It'll send a confirmation message back, and update twitter for you!


Why is this better than using my mobile's browser or a Twitter app, or posting via text message?
When you load a website on your mobile phone's browser, or when an app connects to the internet via a 3G connection, this counts against your monthly data download limit**. When you send a text message to Twitter this (at best) takes a message from your monthly allowance or (at worst) costs a premium amount to send. Using Skype (or MSN Messenger) on your 3 mobile phone has none of these effects.


But I don't have a 3 mobile!
One possible solution is to just go for a 3 SIM card, which you can pop into your existing phone***. You can order one for free here. If you order through that link you'll get all the benefits of being a 3 customer plus:

  • Free calls to other 3 customers, free texts and free internet for 90 days every time you top up.
  • £2 extra credit the first time you top up at least £10
Plus I get a little extra incentive for sending you there****!






* A Nokia E63
** Even if you have an 'unlimited' data plan, you don't actually have unlimited data usage. 'Unlimited' data plans have a 'fair usage policy' which means you're still limited with regards to the amount you can send and receive. My 'unlimited' plan is capped at 1GB; yours may be higher, but it will still have a cap.
*** You'll need to check that it's not locked to your current network first.
**** No, that's not the entire reason for this post (check out the original one- not a referral link in sight)- it's just a happy coincidence.