Google Gets (More) Mobile
The firm's new question-and-answer service is somewhat reminiscent of older search engines like Ask Jeeves, answering quick questions through the wonders of the Web browser interface.
But Google is also making this service available on phones via SMS text messaging. Users can text questions to "googl" (that's 46645 to the alpha-phobic amongst you) and receive answers on the phone. Unstrung played with the service -- both on the phone and on the Web -- for a while and found it doesn't seem to answer the vital questions that a mobile user needs to know, such as where to find curry in Tribeca. No such info without the proper ZIP code. Some of Google's sample questions include things like "What is the population of India," which suggests that the mobile service would most suit test-taking kids who must be allowed to have cell phones in class for emergency purposes.
Still, it works better than the early days of Ask Jeeves, which often took the unlucky user into a bizarre realm of cognitive dissonance: Ask a simple question about, say, algebra and find out about the many ways to make salmon mousse!
And Google isn't intending to stop going mobile. The aim is to make "Google available on a number of different types of platforms," a spokesman for the firm says.
This starts to get really interesting when when you start to add location capabilities such as GPS to the equation. Then a user wouldn't need a ZIP code to track down a plate of Rogan Josh in the posher part of town. Oh, and of course, advertisers could push very specific ads to your phone.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung