Google's SMS service

Question

I heard you talking about a new Google text messaging service for cell phones on your radio show, but didn’t quite get all the details. Can you explain how this service works?

- Wayne

Answer

This question was answered on October 25, 2007. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The popularity of text messaging migrated to the cell phone years ago, but most cell phone users over the age of 30 aren’t regular users of this form of communication (or even aware that their phone has text messaging capabilities).

Text messaging with another human being requires the user to be able to have segments of a conversation over a period of time, which necessitates the user to adapt to this newer way of communicating.

Google saw this underutilized technology as another way to extend their brand, especially to those that rarely used the SMS (Short Message Service) option on their cell phone Now whenever us older cell phone users have a question that we think Google can help with, we can ask via text messaging (the service from Google is free, however, standard text rates from your cell phone provider may apply Make sure you understand which text plan you are on, because this service is addicting!)

The easiest way to get started is to use your computer to go to www.google.com/sms and click on the “Get Started Now” button This will take you to a page where you simply put in your cell phone number and click on “Send Now” to get the party started.

For those of you that are comfortable with text messaging, you can simply send your request to Google at 466453 (which is what you get when you spell Google on a cell phone keypad).

When you get your initial text message from Google, you can simply reply with various requests from then on For instance if you want the definition of a word, simply text a “d” (space) and the word you want defined and within seconds Google will respond with a definition - example: d tantalize.

If you want the current weather in any city, simply text “w” (space) and the name of the city: w phoenix (or even phx) – none of the commands are case sensitive.

You can use it to find restaurants that are nearby by putting in the type of food you want followed by the zip code: sushi 85281.

You can see what movies are playing in your area: movies 85281 or movies tempe.

This service is invaluable for those that travel as it’s a quick way to get info in cities that you are unfamiliar with, but it isn’t just for travel related items.

You can also use the currency conversion (type: 1 usd in yen), the units of measure calculator (type: 1 us pint in liters), get sports scores (type: score red sox), stock quotes (type: stock goog) and even get prices on any product that you are shopping for (type: price 40gb ipod)

You can also ask for directions, maps, flight information and a host of other very helpful items once you learn the basic lingo.

And, of course, you can ask your typical fact-based question of the most powerful search engine on the planet (type: who wrote hamlet)

The best way to get up to speed on this truly incredible service is to visit the overview information at www.google.com/sms or text “help” or “tips” directly to Google through your cell phone!

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on October 25, 2007