Feeds

GUGL TXTS U YR SRCH RSLTS

Froogle, directories and search clippings by SMS

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Google has introduced a free texting service that taps into its existing Froogle, phone directory, business listings databases, and even refined "clippings" from the main search engine. There's no premium to be paid by the user, over and above what it costs to send a text message. Perhaps that's because premium text services are their infancy in the USA, with carriers currently preferring to run their own promotions rather than co-operate on a billing infrastructure for third-party services. Or perhaps it's because Google is really trying not to be evil. In which case we hope we haven't put ideas into the boys heads, and really hope they haven't read articles like this. [*]. In fact, the answer seems to be depressingly predictable. The ad broker wants to squeeze its context ads into the message, if it can: "To the extent that ads can provide you with useful information, we would be likely to do that," Google's Georges Harik told Internetnews.com.

Either way, the service is quick and surprisingly broad ranging, delivering multi-part messages within a minute in our tests. You can look up word definitions, zip codes, use the calculator (although most phones have one built in), or reference factoids. As an example, Google cites G population San Francisco, which works pretty well. We tried G wealth Larry Page and received a sentence from a BBC News Online report, two fragments from Kuro5hin.org, and one that simply read "4of 4)Stanford Alumnus Larry Page (#43 at ...", which is about as useful as a one legged man in an arse-kicking competition.

Still, at least we didn't get any Movable Type Trackbacks texted back to us.

We ought to classify that as a near miss. What the service appears to have done, judging by what we see here, is skim part of the context provided by first search result, the BBC news story, and then three fragments from a single Kuro5hin posting, which is the second result. A little cleverer parsing would have discovered No.5, where we learn that "Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, both 31, hold the No.4 and No.5 spots with total wealth of $4.19 billion and $4.17 billion, more than four times their..." which would have given us an answer. That fifth search result is the first fragment with a dollar sign in it. So you can see better queries aren't unimaginable, although this depends on your faith in taxonomies and natural language parsing. But refining the SMS search must be easier than building a space escalator (and hopefully, a higher priority).

Google's SMS service is interesting for a couple of reasons. Texting is the world's most popular computer user interface. It's how most of the world communicates, too.

The second is so obvious that we wouldn't mention it at all if it wasn't in danger of being forgotten with all the recent psycho-babble about search. Search is at best a bumpy road that gets people to information, that might or might not be useful to them. It's not, in itself, a destination. Nor is "information" a special kind of stuff.

Google's mission statement, as it is for so many technology companies, is "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." The first two are easy - the third one is hard. So we shouldn't be surprised to discover that services like AQA in the UK seem to have caught the popular imagination: it was created by people who pay as much attention to what people really do, than to the algorithms.

Stateside readers with a mobile phone - that's the one without wires - can investigate the service here. ®

Related stories

Google founder wanted phones banned from HQ
Google sued by Planet Goo
Former Symbian, Psion boss answers all your questions
UK premium rate phone complaints rocket
Drp yr WMDs now plse! - debunking Iraqi text psyops
Premium rate txt on the rise
Stop this SMS I want to get off

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
YOU are the threat: True confessions of real-life sysadmins
Who will save the systems from the men and women who save the systems from you?
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Ofcom snatches 700MHz off digital telly, hands it to mobile data providers
Hungry mobe'n'slab-waving Blighty swallows spectrum
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.