Are you fascinated by the possibilities presented by short message service or SMS? Here are five SMS-related services that you may like to use—just for fun, or for profit, or maybe to liberate yourself from pesky mobile messages forever.
Mobile publishing with a twist
Let me explain this one with an example. I live in a community spread over 110 acres. There are 500 homes on the property. When the water supply is about to be cut off in the next hour in the middle of an afternoon, how do you inform 500 homes? Simple: Make them subscribe to your personal SMS feed and send them mobile updates instantly. The free service from MyToday—the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Rajesh Jain—lets you set up such a feed in under 2 minutes. People you know can subscribe to your feed with a single SMS (and stop them just as easily). You can also ensure that only those approved by you get your SMSes. You can publish messages from wherever you are, right from your mobile phone or from a Web browser interface.
The service does sound like a wannabe Twitter, but it has a twist. Using Twitter you cannot pre-schedule messages or have multiple people publishing from the same account (unless you give them your login and password). With a little imagination, the MyToday service can become a handy—and free—tool in the workplace for feedback and a variety of other tasks. Not surprisingly, the service won a global award for innovation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in 2008.
The significant advantages of the service? Subscribers can opt in and out on their own, so there is no chance of spam: The owner of the SMS feed can set up a system of approval—essentially making this a moderated list; publishing can be done from a mobile phone or from a Web-based interface. Log on to http://mobs.mytoday.com/. A paid service with enhanced features, such as a dashboard to monitor your SMS activity, is also available.
Mobile publishing minus the twist
Google has an SMS service where people create chatpata (spicy) content. You are invited to snack on it. For example, you could subscribe to SMS channels that deliver content on technology, English vocabulary, jokes, spirituality, travel, news, food, and even buying and selling second-hand stuff (you could subscribe by geography to ensure the content remains relevant). The owner of the channel generates all the content, and expectedly, there is no guarantee of quality. But overall, there is a vast choice, so it’s only a question of trying a few before you find the content you like. In fact, you can set up your own channel—how about something that offers terrorist alerts, financial fraud news, how to grow dahlias, and the latest on the Niira Radia recordings just to make things interesting? For details, log on to http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/browse
Is there anyone who is not tired of spam messages on their mobiles? You know the ones that go “Hot house with DJ Smash 1st time in da season. Free drinks 4 ladies @ Purple Pussycat. For Friday GList call…” It’s not just the intellectual disability of the bartender sending the message that makes you wince, but the fact that you can’t block the SMSes from sundry astrologers, slimming miracles and Ayurvedic massages. But there’s hope. Pune-based Optinno Mobitech’s SMS Blocker intuitively identifies spam and quarantines it in a bin for examination at leisure. Although what you want to do with them at leisure is a moot point.
The SMS Blocker is easy to install and has a bunch of features that let you automatically identify and block messages or select the ones you want blocked or unblocked. But best of all, the app, which has won a Nasscom (National Association of Software and Services Companies) and Forum Nokia award, has a blocked SMS counter that shows up on the home screen telling you how much grief it has insulated you from. For Symbian phones only. For a free trial, log on to http://smsblocker.in. Price, Rs199.
Reminders and other time pass
I’ve always wanted a good reminder service (“hey, don’t forget to pick up a birthday card for mom”) without having to tweak a dinky calendar on my mobile phone. One of the solutions is to use Way2SMS, which has a feature called “Future SMS”. It’s much like what MyToday does, except that it doesn’t broadcast the SMS to the whole list of subscribers. The user can decide who on the list gets the message.
Way2SMS has other services too but here is my favourite: a mobile locator that can pinpoint on a map the circle to which a phone belongs. Okay, it’s not rocket science and not the sort of thing you need every day, but it’s solid time pass when you get mystery callers and want to know where they are holed up. Log on to http://way2sms.com
The no-problem info service
Don’t want to subscribe to SMS services that you later simply can’t remember how to stop? Or which may spam you in the future? For the upcoming IPL (Indian Premier League) and World Cup season, here is a neat way to get cricket scores when you want them. Just give a missed call to 022-33010055 and get the latest cricket score by SMS in return. It’s a free service from Zip Dial, a company that has several mobile innovations to its credit. For details, log on to www.zipdial.com
Arun Katiyar is a content and communication consultant with a focus on technology companies. He is a published author with HarperCollins and has extensive media experience spanningmusic, print, radio, Internet and mobiles.
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