Thursday, November 22, 2012

How to access internet via text messages

It’s not necessary to have internet connection on your phone to access the web. A mere text message sent to a particular number can get you basic data from sites like Google and Wikipedia. Text-based applications also provide information like live update of cricket scores.

Companies like txtWeb, Google and Innoz Technologies have such services.

At the heart of the technology is adoption of a different method to access the internet. These services are popular because of three reasons: one, majority of mobile phones in India are low-end ones with just ‘talk-and-text’ features; two, many people who have smartphones don't have a data plan; and three, those who have data plan, use it sparingly considering poor bandwidth and high cost.

In txtWeb, the keywords have to be sent to 9243342000. For example, to see the Wikipedia entry on Diwali SMS ‘@Wikipedia Diwali’. @cricket gives you the latest scores of cricket matches.

You can get the autorickshaw fare between two locations in a city -- for example, send ‘@auto fare Bangalore, Koramangala, M G Road’. Users can text ‘help’ or ‘txtweb’, to get a list of top apps, featured apps etc. The response sent to the user also contains many tips on how to make better use of the platform, says Manish Maheshwari, director, txtWeb.

Randomly sending a keyword also provides a list of applications related to that subject. Besides, a complete list of all the apps is available at ‘txtweb.com/ apps’.

Google has ‘SMS applications’, wherein simple queries can be answered by sending an SMS to 9773300000. For example, to know how much is one dollar in rupee, text "1 dollar in INR". Similarly, by texting "Bangalore weather", you get information like temperature, humidity, windspeed, sunrise time etc.

If you want the definition of a word, say, inflation, send an SMS ‘what is inflation’. Flight status and list of trains running between two stations too can be obtained by this service.

Another company working in this field is Innoz Technologies. It has developed an innovative operating system for mobiles that enables access to internet through SMS. All that users have to do is to send the keyword to 55444 to get the answer. The company is in talks with mobile phone manufacturers to have the Innoz OS preinstalled in basic phone models.

(This is article appeared in The Times of India, Bangalore, on Nov 20)

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