Gmail Offers Free SMS Text Messaging

October 31st, 2008 at 12:00 am

google gmail sms chat

GMail is expected to introduce today their SMS chat service.  This new service will let users send text messages for free from the Gmail chat interface.  Of course payment will depend on how much the recipients mobile carrier charges and so functionality depends if the recipient allows it.

Webmonkey reports:

"Google is adding the experimental functionality through Gmail Labs. To turn it on, go to the Labs tab within Gmail’s settings. Or, just click on the little green Erlenmeyer flask icon next to your e-mail address at the top of the page in Gmail. If you don’t see the option right away, check back later – Gmail product manager Keith Coleman, who demonstrated the new feature for Webmonkey, says it will be made available in Labs to all Gmail users Thursday evening." 

A 406 area coded number will be assigned to every user the first time they try to send an SMS through chat.  This number will then be permanently assigned to that email address.  The 406 number will also work both ways, this means that the any SMS sent to that number will be received in that user’s Gmail chat interface.  It is still unsure if this feature will spill over to Google Talk.

The SMS chat is something similar to Yahoo! Messenger’s send to mobile feature.  However the new Google feature will only be initially available in labs so at the time of its release it may not have the mobile forwarding power of Yahoo’s service just yet.