Google life.


road.jpgI have a ton of work to do, and a pain in my neck (some type of stress thing I think) – but I am having one of those rather-be-writing days – so here I am in blog-time. All week I’ve been wanting to post about the wonders of Google Mobile – a recent discovery for me though I suspect it’s been around for awhile.

In particular I’m excited about the SMS (text-messaging) capabilities Google is building on. Rather than having to log on to the web to perform searches or look up directions, a whole set of “commands” can be texted to Google via your cel phone to be returned with answers. All you require is a mobile phone with text messaging capability and you’ve got a library of information as well as updated info like weather, sports scores and flight times at your side whenever you need them. Convenient! (Not unlike my workplace telephone counseling service).

To use the service program your phone to text GOOGLE (466453) and then type your query in the body of the text message as you normally would when messaging a friend. A full list of commands can be found here. Some examples include:

  • Flight – If you type in Flight and then your flight number you will receive a message showing where your flight is leaving from, arriving to, the time, and whether or not the flight is on schedule.
  • Define – I love this feature, particularly as my friend Kevin and I often make bets on words and pronunciations that we end up settling when we get to a computer. Text the word you want to define and you will get a lengthy message back with a dictionary entry on it. Instant pay up!
  • Translate – Single-word or phrase translation from your language to many others. (Ie: translate how are you? in spanish)
  • Calculate – While most cel phones have a calculator, the google calculate will do conversions (kilometres into miles anyone? or even better celsius into farenheit!)
  • Local – This is a feature for looking up local businesses in your area. Looking for an Ethiopian restaurant in Seattle? Simply type Ethiopian Seattle, Washington – and a list will be returned of possible eateries.

It’s a little like having a portable yellow-pages, dictionary, calculation device, flight database etc. in your pocket at any given time – without the drag of surfing the web on your cel phone.

Another cool mobile app that I downloaded recently is Google Maps – which puts the full functionality of Google Maps onto your phone in App form. Punch in your location, pull up a map or sattelite photo, get directions, etc. To get the app, turn your phone’s web browser to www.google.com/gmm for download. This service does rely on the ability for your phone to send and receive data web-style unfortunately. For the simpler solution on directions, you can use Google SMS with the command “Directions” and the relevant info to get the text message version.

There is also a GMail App for your cel which works very nicely if you like that sortof thing: gmail.com/app.

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I have been thinking a lot lately about technology-on-the-go and how much it holds my life together when I am on the road these days. Even though I am away from home up to half of each month, I can still connect to my social networks, do my banking, check in at work, and do my joint scheduling with others. That’s a blog post on its own, but I am curious about the evolution of mobile technologies, especially as I am finding a use for them more and more in my hectic life.

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