Google introduces wireless service

Google on Thursday launched a beta test version of Google SMS, a new service that lets US users of wireless devices query Google for specific information, such as business or residential listings, product prices and word definitions, the company announced.

Google SMS also can be used to solve mathematical calculations, to look up area codes and zip codes and to receive snippets of Google search engine results.

Google expects to modify and improve the service during this pilot period based on user feedback, a company executive said.

"We have presented our best guess of what would be good (for this service to have) but we are open to change and to learn (what people want)," said Georges Harik, who is in charge of new projects at Google and whose title is director of Googlettes, the term the company uses to refer to this type of effort. "A core belief at Google is that we try to learn more from real usage rather than trying to figure out everything ourselves."

Google SMS currently only works with U.S. wireless services, including AT&T Wireless, Cingular, Nextel, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint PCS.

Using a mobile phone or a handheld device that supports SMS (Short Messaging Service) text messaging, users can tap Google SMS through specialized queries that trigger very specific replies. For example, entering the word "pizza" along with a zip code prompts Google SMS to return related business listings in that geographical zone. Likewise, entering a person's name along with a city, state and/or zip code yields residential phone listings.

Google SMS taps the company's Froogle comparison shopping service when users enter the word "price" along with a product name, or when they enter an "f" (for Froogle) and a product name. Users can obtain word definitions by entering the word "define" followed by a word.

The Froogle link could be very useful if a user is at a store considering whether to buy a particular product, because the user could check the item's price in other stores, Harik said.

Users can also receive snippets of the regular Google search results one gets when using the search engine from a regular PC. To do this, users should enter the letter "g" followed by their query. They will receive excerpts from the results, which can be useful in finding the desired information.

Because Google SMS responds to queries phrased in specific ways, users shouldn't attempt to use it with the free-form queries supported by the regular Google search engine.

Google SMS is based on text messaging and doesn't require a browser on the wireless device. By the same token, it doesn't return full search-engine-type listings with links to Web sites, as the regular Google service on the Web does.

Google SMS only returns text-based information, so features such as ringtones or pictures aren't supported.

Google doesn't charge for the Google SMS service, but wireless provider fees for text messaging apply.

For now, queries can only be filed in English. There is no timetable yet on when Google will extend this service to other countries and to other languages, Harik said.

Users should receive Google SMS query results within one minute typically. The maximum number of results per query is three. If a user is unsatisfied with those three results, the query should be tweaked to try to obtain different, more relevant results. The maximum number of search-engine snippets per query is two.

More information can be found at http://sms.google.com.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?