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Johanne Torres[October 11, 2004]

Now you Can SMS Google for Instant Responses!

BY JOHANNE TORRES


And Google (quote) does it again... The search engine company just announced it’s beta testing an SMS (define - news - alert) service, letting cell phone and PDA users submit Google queries via short messaging. Google SMS will enable you to quickly access phonebook listings, dictionary definitions, and Froogle info, all done in text, without the need to access URLs, or any other links.




This announcement follows a string of company offering initiatives including gmail beta—the company’s Web-based email service, and Google print beta—an Amazon-type service that allows publishers to submit materials for inclusion, and lets you search for print materials and obtain book excerpts, and bookstore info.

Google SMS seems to be easy to use. You would submit a search query as a text message; text the message over to the US shortcode 46645 (GOOGL on most phones); and then you would receive a text message (or messages) with the results, usually within a minute. Results may be labeled as "1of3", "2of3", etc. Google Local enables you to search the entire Web for just the stores and businesses in a specific neighborhood. Enter what you want to find. You can search for either a specific business (Johnny’s Pizza) or a general service (pizza). You have to make sure to include both a city and state, or a zip code with your search terms. If you want to get Google Local results, put a period between the business name and the location ('pizza. 90071' or 'johnnys pizza.los angeles ca')'.

With Google SMS beta you can find publicly listed phone numbers and addresses for residences in the US, and also do area and zip code lookups. Google SMS will also let you Froogle to search products from stores across the Web; allowing price checking on popular products for comparison shopping. These results are not advertisements, just current prices for products available online. You can also find definitions for a word or phrase on the Web by entering the word “define” followed by the word or phrase, or use the shortcut 'D' before the search terms. Google SMS is not case sensitive, so 'D' and 'd' are the same.

You can also use Google SMS as a calculator—just enter the calculation you'd like done as a query. The calculator can solve math problems involving basic arithmetic, more complicated math, physical constants, as well as units of measure and conversions, (in case you're at the supermarket and need to know how many extra cans of tomato puree you would need to reach the quantity required for your homemade marinara sauce).

To satisfy my curiosity, I gathered an online beta testing group of my own buddies to try out the service. Armed with my cell phone from Sprint, I entered “pizza and my zip code”. After exactly one second I got two text messages with four pizza restaurant listings in my neighborhood, complete with their phone numbers and addresses. I also texted a definition search on “SMS,” a second later, I received three text messages with a detailed definition on the subject. Within my buddy group I volunteered my fiancé, along with his Cingular cell phone. He entered various combos of queries like “apartments and my zip code,” “movie theaters and my zip code”, and “pizza and my zip code”, at the moment, he is still waiting for answers from Google as the test seemed to fail with his carrier. My other online buddy Steve entered my same queries via his Verizon cell phone, and he effectively got the same responses I did, instantly.

Johanne Torres is the contributing editor for TMCnet.com and Internet Telephony magazine. Previously, she was the assistant editor for EContent magazine in Connecticut. She can be reached by e-mail at jtorres@tmcnet.com.

Have you tried Google SMS Beta and had a different experience? Talk back in our forums!







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