Google SMS Provides Mobile Access to Some Useful Information

Late last week, Google announced its Google SMS Service which allows you to send a text message containing a query to the mobile number 46645 (that spells GOOGL on most phone keypads). Google will respond with one or more of SMS messages that hopefully provide useful information.

Examples of valid queries include:

  • Local business listings
    • pizza 08520
    • pizza troy ny
    • mighty taco williamsville ny
    • barnes and noble princeton nj
  • Residential phone listings
    • first_name last_name city state
    • [ I'd rather not subject anyone with a listed phone number to abuse by using them as an example. ]
  • Product prices from Froogle
    • Price ipod 20gb
    • Price Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Word definitions
    • D aspirate
    • D longitude
  • Calculations
    • 27 + 3 / 4
  • Area code and Zip Code lookups for the United States
    • 716
    • 95014

I tried all of these queries and they returned mostly good information, although there were a few confusing circumstances. "Barnes and noble princeton nj" returned a couple of Barnes and Noble distribution centers out by the New Jersey Turnpike, in addition to the Barnes and Noble store at Princeton Market Fair on U.S. 1.

Sometimes area code and Zip Code queries returned both geographic locations and product prices from Froogle. For instance, I didn't know that there was a 14" Gold Pan with model number 95014. Querying Froogle for "Jeep grand cherokee limited" returned prices for Jeep-branded baby carriages, rather than SUVs.

On the other hand, the calculator function worked extremely well; It provided correct order of operation, so that "27 + 3 / 4" became "27 + (3 / 4)" which equals 27.75.

Google SMS is a handy service, no matter how limited it seems at first glance. Address and phone number information for local businesses is a killer app by itself-- it's going to impact a siginifcant revenue stream for U.S. mobile carriers. Google SMS is a good reason for Americans to get the text message habit that swept Europe and Asia a long time ago.