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Six great ways to get more from SMS and your phone

Tips and tools to get more from texting

Text messaging isn't just kid's stuff anymore. Use these amazing online tools to turn any SMS-capable phone into a productivity powerhouse.

To many people over the age of 30, text messaging can seem like one of those strange, complicated behaviours only teenagers understand. In reality, it's one more great tool in your productivity arsenal, right up there with email and instant messaging.

In function, texting treads a fine line between those two communication capabilities, in essence serving as a basic form of email for even the simplest of today's mobile phones. Text messaging relies on a decades-old technology called Short Message Service (SMS) that's used to relay brief messages (usually no more than 160 characters, equivalent to a couple of average-length sentences).

Teens typically use texting for trivial mobile-to-mobile communication ("WHERE R U?", "AT THE PRECINCT!"). But savvy travellers can use SMS for a whole lot more. Let your thumbs do a little walking (over your phone's keypad) and you can check flight status, update your calendar, track a package or even your bank balance.

You don't even always need your thumbs: some services let you send messages and retrieve information using just your voice. Best of all, most of these text-messaging marvels cost nothing to use. However, you'll want to check with your carrier to see how many messages (if any) are allowed as part of your monthly plan.

1. Remember your appointments and schedule new ones

Can't remember what time your next meeting takes place? If you're a Google Calendar user, you can find out in a flash: just send a message with the word 'next' dial 48368 and you'll get back the time and details of your next scheduled event. Send 'day' for a full list of today's appointments and 'day' for tomorrow's.

Google Calendar also lets you add new events via SMS and you can use plain English to do it. For example: 'Lunch with Joe at Rudi's tomorrow at noon'. Shoot a message like that to 48368, and Google will add it to your calendar with all the appropriate details.

Finally, you can configure Google Calendar to send automatic reminders in advance of an event. For any existing entry, click Edit Event Details, then Add a Reminder. Choose SMS from the list of options, and then specify how far in advance of the event the notification should arrive.

Before you can use Google Calendar's SMS features, you have to configure it for use with your phone. In your web browser, open Google Calendar and click the Settings link, then choose Mobile Setup. Follow the simple cues to enable mobile-phone notifications, and you're all set.

NEXT PAGE: Tracking deliveries and calories by text

  1. Tips to get more from texting
  2. Tracking your deliveries and calories by text
  3. Composing SMS messages by voice
  4. Twitter updates and archiving your texts


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