Telefonica Digital has launched a new service that allows smartphone users to communicate with text, pictures and voice using their data allowance or Wi-Fi.

The TU Me app works in a similar way to Skype or WhatsApp by using mobile broadband or Wi-Fi – rather than SMS or voice allowances – to allow users to exchange text messages, make calls, leave voice messages and share photos and location information.

Content is stored online and can be accessed whenever users are in the app or if users lose their device. The free-to-download app also gives users the ability to keep track of every interaction using a searchable timeline.

The app is initially available for the iPhone but a version for Android is due soon with new functionality also in the pipeline. It is available to consumers who subscribe to mobile networks other than those operated by Telefonica.

TU Me is the first product that Telefonica Digital – formed in September 2011 – has launched globally and directly to consumers. The TU brand will be used to launch other “enhanced communications services” to customers as part of subscription bundles, according to the company.

There are concerns in the mobile industry that this kind of service is eating into operators’ SMS revenue but WhatsApp founder Brian Acton said in April that they will become positive for operators as they will encourage subscribers to move to lucrative data plans.