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Yahoo has launched a new search feature which enables people to send text message queries to its search engine and receive results back on their mobile phones.

Yahoo SMS Search, which is similar to the Google SMS service launched late last year, is currently only available for use by users in the US. The free service allows users to get information on a wide range of subjects including local listings, stock quotes, dictionary definitions, area codes, weather, horoscopes, zip codes and Wi-Fi hotspots.

Users of the SMS service need only send in a brief text message to receive search results. For example, by typing in "W" and a zip code, users receive a short weather forecast for their area via a text message. The SMS service is initially available for customers of the Cingular, Sprint and Verizon networks, although more operators are expected to be added in the near future.

The company also announced that it has expanded its browser-based mobile web search service so that it can now work with WAP-compatible browsers. Previously, only advanced phones such as the Treo, which had full sized screens, could do browser-based searching. However, the company has begun using Transcoding to adapt webpages into a format that make it easier for smaller screen devices to read meaning that almost any WAP-enabled mobile with a colour screen will be able to access the new search feature. The launch of the new SMS service marks the latest in a long line of developments from the search engine which is currently engaged in a battle with Google to win the hearts and minds of both mobile and internet users.

Just last week both companies began sharing the code that runs their mapping services with outside developers, in the hope that programmers will begin creating new applications to expand the range of internet search and satellite-based maps.

In early May, Yahoo went ahead of its rival by becoming the first search engine to make a video search service widely available to users. In the weeks prior to that launch the company also released a beta version of its personal search engine, following in the tracks of a number of search firms, including Google, who had already unveiled personalised services. Yahoo has also locked horns with Google in a war to provide increased storage to users of their respective webmail services. Yahoo boosted its storage to 1GB to meet Google's Gmail limits earlier this year, but just days later Google went one better by increasing its storage capacity to 2GB.

Copyright © 2005, ENN

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