Google offers Google Mobile SMS Beta, a free service to cell phone users to obtain various information from driving directions to currency conversion to local restaurant addresses by text message. What do you do? You send a text message to GOOGL (that’s 46645) with the information you need. You need to be somewhat familiar with the capabilities to use the application, although the program is fairly intuitive.
This is a text service, not a mobile internet service, so you don’t have to worry about ridiculously expensive data usage charges.
The best part is that it’s SUPER fast. You won’t be waiting around for 10 minutes to get your answer.
What can you do?
- Local Listings: This is a great deal for travelers. You type in what you want (such as mexican, blockbuster or taxi) and the location (either city and state or zip code). This will look like:
mexican 72120 or
taxi little rock ar
– If you’re in a strange city and don’t want to take the time to stop at Starbucks to get online and find a restaurant, you can use this option. Or you can use it to find a Starbucks to get online. Whatever.
- Weather: Self explanatory. Find out the weather for a certain city. For example, type:
weather boston ma
- Sports: Get sports scores. For example:
– If you don’t get an answer, it probably means the sport is not in season.
- Movies: Finds theater listings for movies. For example:
sound of music tallulah la
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– If you don’t get an answer, it probably means the movie is not in theaters.
- Stock Quote: It finds – you guessed it – stock quotes. Type, for exaple:
- Glossary: Works like a dictionary or a glossary. Begin with the word “Define.” For example:
- Zip Code: Tells you to which city a zip code is assigned.
- Translation: Translates a word to a foreign language. Use the words “translate” and “in.” For example:
translate mushroom in spanish
- Driving Directions: Gives you driving directions to a city or zip code. Uses the word “to.” For example:
little rock to st louis
- Web Snippets: Gives you generic web results for a topic. Use the letter “g.” For example:
g central park
– Don’t really see much point in this one. It doesn’t seem to give any useful information.
- Q & A: Gives you answers to fact based questions. For example:
– I tried “golden gate bridge architect” and “prado museum location” and it didn’t come up with anything. I think it may be difficult to come up with the right search terms to find what you want.
- Area Code: Tells you to which city an area code is assigned. For example:
- Froogle: Gives price information for products. Begin with the word “price.” For example:
price gorilla gear tripod
- Calculator: Gives answers to solve math problems, units of measure or currency conversions. Uses the word “in” for all but math problems. For example:
5+2* or half cup in teaspoon or 70F in C or 1 dollar in pound or 3 USD in GBP.
– The temperature conversion is REALLY useful for we Americans who are on a different system than the rest of the universe. I’m also a big fan of the currency conversion. Of-course you don’t want to convert every purchase (ballparking usually works) but this could be handy for larger items that aren’t on your company’s tab.
The drawbacks: For some local services, you need to know your current zip code. If you’re leaving a meeting in downtown Chicago and looking for a Mexican restaurant, you won’t have much luck if you don’t know the zip code of your location. Also, you may receive multiple text messages for one query. I tried “falafel” and received 5 separate messages. Not a big deal if you have a 200 text per month plan, but could be an issue if you’re a pay-per-text user and you use the service often.
You should know, if you don’t have a text messaging plan with your service provider, texts usually cost about $0.10 each to send or receive. So don’t go nuts looking up the answer to every trivia question at the bar or currency conversions for a pack of gum.