The Future of Text Messaging

Use your Smartphone and SMS messaging to get instant information, send money, save money, and make money!

SMS (short message service) or text messaging has become the rage among American teens and seems to be one of their preferred methods of communication. But it has also matured into one of the most powerful marketing tools ever conceived in Europe and Asia. The full range of SMS applications is only beginning to emerge in the U.S.

SMS, or "texting," involves sending a short text message limited to 160 characters to a cell phone number, e-mail address, or "short code" (more about that later).

Get information fast

It has been a couple of years now since Google introduced texting for information. For example, if you want to know the weather for San Diego, CA, just text "W San Diego" to 46645 and the results will come back within a few seconds. Similarly, you can find a hotel, pizza parlor, Chinese restaurant, gas station, or hotspot in any area. For a complete list of Google information services, go to http://www.google.com/intl/en_us/mobile/sms/.

A similar mobile search directory offered by 4INFO (http://www.4info.net/howto) will give you TV listings, movies, and much more. To try it out, text "pickup" (or simply "PU") to 4info (44636), and you will get back some really corny pickup lines, such as "Would you like gin and platonic, or do you prefer scotch and sofa?"

Yahoo has recently jumped on the bandwagon with oneSearch. Text your query to 92466 (YAHOO). Yahoo boasts that it has more comprehensive returns. To try out oneSearch, go to http://www.mobile.yahoo.com/mobileweb/onesearch (or http://www.m.yahoo.com on your mobile Web browser). Enter "movies" and your area code to see a list of theaters in your area and what they're playing. Yahoo's return messages include hot URL links for additional info, but they are no use if you don't have a Web-capable phone. If that's the case, you're better off using Google or 4INFO's plain text replies.

Personal SMS

Teens have embraced texting, in part because it's fast and efficient; you don't have to get involved in a lengthy phone conversation, and just the important facts get transmitted. It's great in meetings or public places where phones are intrusive. Unfortunately, SMS has been used for cheating on tests, and for that reason, some schools tend to frown on cell phones in class.

Sending an SMS is easy. Simply enter the recipient's cell phone number in the To: box, key in a short message (no more than 160 characters), and push send. Alternatively, you can send a text message from a phone to an e-mail address.

If your cell phone is worth its salt, it will have a counter in the corner of its display, indicating how many characters you've typed and how many remain. Some more sophisticated phones offer canned messages that you can tap on to enter, saving input time and effort. Examples of canned messages include "in a meeting," "on a call," "running late," etc. In addition, some devices (e.g., my Treo 750) also offer a pop-up screen for entering emoticons.

The 160 character limitation and the somewhat cumbersome task of inputting text have led to the creation—by users—of an abbreviated language of their own. For instance, "2GTBT" = "too good to be true"; "143" = "I love you"; "404" = "I don't know," etc. Webopedia has a good online reference of text messaging abbreviations and a chart of emoticons and their meanings (http://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/textmessageabbreviations.asp).

 

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