Saturday, 23 July 2011

Google taps Filipino appetite for text messaging

Virgil Lopez/Sunnex

MANILA — Users of leading search engine Google can now send and receive text messages from within Gmail to local mobile phones for free.

Dubbed “Gmail-to-SMS,” the company said the service will allow for seamless integration between mobile and desktop communication and make it more convenient for over 70 million Filipino mobile phone users to send each other messages.

The company partnered with the country’s leading telecommunication firms Smart, Globe, and Sun Cellular for the latest service, which is seen to rival other free messaging service entities such as Chikka and Yahoo!

Past reports cited the Philippines as the world’s text messaging capital, accounting for at least two billion messages per day.

With SMS in Gmail Chat, Gmail users can send a text from the desktop interface directly to a mobile phone through SMS, as if they were simply sending an instant message.

In return, the recipient can respond to the text message and the response will appear in the sender’s Gmail interface.

The message can be stored and archived just like any other chat message. Standard network charges will apply for any communication from the phone to the desktop.

To avail of the service, a user will have to type a phone number and a short message into the new SMS box in Gmail’s chat window on the left-hand side of the screen, then click send.

Contact phone numbers can be stored in the Gmail address book, which allows for faster access anytime an SMS needs to be sent.

SMS in Gmail Chat is automatically enabled for Gmail users, but in the event that it is not active in an account, the Google user can activate it in Gmail’s settings window.

Every user can initially send up to 50 messages continuously and every reply back from a mobile phone refreshes the counter by five messages, up to a maximum of 50.

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