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.
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 google.com on any device
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- The first option requires registration while the second does not.
- 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