Mountain View (CA) – Google’s Gmail team is on a roll. Two days ago we were introduced to a first task feature in Gmail and today it is another “Labs” feature that enables users to send text messages cellphones and receive a reply that will be posted in Gmail’s chat window.
Another day, another new Gmail feature – text (SMS) messages from within the webmail interface. Some readers may remember that this feature appeared in Gmail about a month ago only, but was quickly removed due to bugs. This time around, Google says the feature is here to stay. “Send SMS text messages right from Gmail. You chat from your comfy computer and reach your friends on the go; they get your messages as texts and can peck out replies on their little keyboards,” the company said in a statement released today.
Since Google rolled out the SMS support as a Labs feature, it has to be enabled first in the Labs tab in the Settings section of the Gmail web interface. Select Enable at “Text Messaging (SMS) in Chat” and click on Save Changes. Although text messages can be sent only to U.S. cellphone numbers, the company said that Gmail users from anywhere in the world can text their U.S. contacts. When the SMS feature is enabled, it is accessed through the chat section found in the left-hand column of the webmail interface.
You can either type a cellphone number into the search box of the chat section or select a contact you want to SMS first and then add their cellphone number with a contact name. Google does not allow users to send an SMS to a cellphone number that is not assigned to a contact. Users are reminded that the recipient may be charged by its mobile carrier for receiving a text message. Also, SMS messages delivered from Gmail to a cellphone count as part of a user’s mobile messaging plan.
The text message will be delivered to a recipient from a number with a 406 area code, which translates to “G0O” on a cellphone keypad. Recipients can reply to the SMS, which will route the answer back to the Gmail servers and show up in a Gmail chat window. Messages from each contact will come from a different 406 number so you can reply to any message and it will get back to the right person. Messages from the same person will always come from the same number.
To help prevent spamming contacts with text messages, users can reply with the word BLOCK, if they do not want to receive messages from a particular Gmail user anymore. To stop getting text messages on a cellphone from anybody using Gmail, users can reply with the word STOP.