Google this week launched a beta test version of Google SMS, a new service that lets users of wireless devices query Google for specific information, such as business or residential phone listings, product prices, and word definitions, the company says.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 doesn't charge for the Google SMS service, but wireless provider fees for text messaging apply.
Google SMS currently only works with U.S. wireless services, including AT&T Wireless, Cingular, Nextel, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint PCS.