Google shuts down SMS Search

Martin Brinkmann
May 12, 2013
Updated • Mar 12, 2018

Google SMS Search allowed users to search Google via text message. This worked by sending an SMS to a Google phone number that included the search query. Google then responded to the query with information, again via SMS and free of charge to the user.

Many shortcuts were available to retrieve the latest sports scores, information about local businesses, stock information, translations or weather information using the SMS search option.

The service has been useful for users who do not have a phone with a data plan, and users who can't or don't want to pay for Internet by the minute. It has been one of the only ways for feature phone users to search the Internet while they are on the go as many feature phones come without web browser that they can use for that.

It may have also been useful in other circumstances. When the phone was low on battery for example as sending an SMS message uses less battery power than firing up a web browser and browsing the Internet.

Many users of the service are reporting that the service has apparently been shut down by Google this night. When they send a search term to Google's SMS Search number, 466453, they get the following response:

SMS search has been shutdown. You can continue to search the web at on any device

google sms search

SMS search is still listed on the Google Mobile website as part of Google's SMS applications offering. When you select it though, you are taken to a web page that no longer exists. [Update: the page is no longer available]

The other SMS applications, Calendar SMS, Gmail SMS or Google Voice SMS appear to work just fine though.

sms search

The Canadian SMS Search page is still up but since it displays the same SMS code, it is not working anymore as well.

Google SMS Search alternatives

Note: 4Info is no longer available.

Are there alternatives available that you can make use of instead? One option appears to be 4INFO even though it may not provide you with the same rich feature set that Google's offering provided you with.

Here is how to get started:

  1. Load the website of the service and select one of the available options on the page, e.g. Weather, Eearthquakes, Horoscopes or MLB scores. You find all content listed here on this page.
  2. You have two options to use the service: first by configuring alerts that you receive via SMS daily or less frequently, and then by directly sending text messages to the 44636 phone number.
  3. The first option requires registration while the second does not.
  4. Check out the service pages on the site to find out how to use the search for individual topics of interest. You can search for the latest weather forecast by sending one of the following messages to the phone number listed under 2. W 94403, W Los Angeles, Weather NYC, Weather 75120
Google shuts down SMS Search
Article Name
Google shuts down SMS Search
Google SMS Search allowed users to search Google via text message. This worked by sending an SMS to a Google phone number that included the search query. Google then responded to the query with information, again via SMS and free of charge to the user.
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  1. Eric said on May 20, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Don’t worry, folks, we’ve come to the rescue:

    Eric Bryant
    Gnosis Media Group

  2. Abilash A said on May 13, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    The best and alternative service similar to Google SMS Search. Better than Google SMS, available in United States, Canada and India

    1. kai said on May 17, 2013 at 11:58 pm

      Here is another alternative, different, not necessary better:

      search for images

      web search

      using text message as a browser to read news

  3. Aram said on May 12, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei.

  4. Cherie said on May 12, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    SO FREAKING PISSED! Why would google shut down something that is so widely used?? Effin dumb

  5. ZennRenn said on May 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Wow man what a bummer, Google disappoints!

  6. Chris said on May 12, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Who was still using this?

  7. Kevin P. said on May 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    “SMS search has been shutdown.”

    What a bunch of idiots. It’s two words when used as a verb. (What’s the past tense? Hint: it’s not “shutdowned.”) The same is true of “backup,” “setup,” “login,” etc., but a lot of code monkeys forget how to write in English properly.

  8. Uhtred said on May 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    It may be a cost saving exercise or a precursor to a paid service announcement, but due warning of closure would be nice, good manners cost nothing

  9. kalmly said on May 12, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Google’s Shut Down of the Day. Gives the bloggers something to blog about and users something to complain about, but nobody does anything about it.

    1. anon said on May 12, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      Yeah! We should all raid google HQ and force them to reopen the services!


  10. Toneman said on May 12, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Here is link below of one of google groups discussion. A google response offering NO details and generally, now ignoring the inquires & concerns from posters about sudden shut down of their SMS search.!topic/websearch/yKG7BGro7QQ

  11. anon said on May 12, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Didn’t even know this exist haha

  12. Sleeping said on May 12, 2013 at 7:15 am

    What a pity, I didn’t know about this feature and never used it. Is Google really so out of money that it has to shutdown so many services?

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