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article imageGoogle Texts Your Cellphone Answers, Translations, Scores and More

By David Silverberg     Nov 23, 2006 in Technology
Digital Journal — First, Google wanted to take over your Web searches. Then, it bought YouTube to dominate the online-video market. Now, the hi-tech giant is coming to a cellphone near you with an innovative text-messaging service. The service has been around for a little while, but features and are getting better and better, and there are still many who have never heard of it.
Called Google SMS, this free technology (other than normal texting fees from your carrier) can get you answers on just about anything. First enter the text number 46645, and send a query. Curious about the weather in Chicago? Just type “weather Chicago” and the answer will arrive in less than four seconds. Or maybe you’re jonesing for some sub sandwiches in your neighbourhood, so you text “Quizno’s Toronto” to find the closest sub-slinger.
The service goes beyond the call of duty by bringing the world to your cellphone: Find the meaning to any word by typing “define” then the word. I typed “define blog” and got a two-message answer, complete with source. It took three seconds to access that tidbit of knowledge.
Google SMS also offers a translation service (for instance, “translate bread in Spanish”), currency converter (“20 ruble in Euro”), a film locator (“Borat M5R 1W1”), a driving-directions helper (for L.A.: “90009 to 90014”) and an area code finder (“514” will return an answer of “area code for Montreal, Quebec, Canada.”).
There’s even more icing to this cake. One of the most amusing features to play with is the Q&A service on Google SMS. Let’s say you’re debating who wrote the book Catch 22 with your friend about: Text your query as simply as possible — “Who wrote Catch 22?” — and your cellphone will end the argument within three seconds.
There’s also a function for sports fans, but when I texted Google with “Bruins” they replied with week-old scores. Then again, the service is ideal for someone returning from travel to catch up on a team’s schedule.
In the short time that I’ve played with Google SMS, it’s already changed my life. I’ve found out how to ask for coffee in French, where the closest Blockbuster is to my house, the population of Toronto and the next showtime of Fast Food Nation in my area. It’s encouraging to know Google is offering this free service to a society tethered to its cellphones.
I bet it’s only a matter of time when Google SMS can text you answers to questions like, “Should I date my best friend’s friend, or play it cool?”
More about Google, Text, Sms, Cellphone, Mobile
 
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