Skip to main content

Gmail Rolls Out SMS Chat (This Time For Real)

On Halloween, reports did the rounds that the Gmail engineers would be further expanding the possibilities for the left-nav panel, (which users can already set include chat, calender and Docs) to allow users send a message from inside Gmail by entering the recipient mobile phone number into the chat window. The tool did launch on October 31 but was pulled because of a glitch that made the experience not as smooth as it could be. Product Manager, Leo Dirac, officially announced the feature today in the Gmail Blog.

So just to refresh on how it works. Users select the contact they want to SMS first and then add their phone number. Gmail saves the contact so from then on you can just enter their name into the box whenever you want to text them. The recipient will get your message, listed as coming from a 406 area code. Replies get routed back through the Gmail Server and show up in the sender’s Gmail Chat window. Each contact that texts you will be assigned a different 406 number allowing you to reply to any message and rest assured your message will get to the right person.

So the question we asked was what happens if I don’t want every needy loser on my Gmail list messaging me while I’m in the shower, making dinner, watching TV, reading, sleeping, or basically doing anything that isn’t talking to them? I reply BLOCK and they can’t text me anymore, that’s what happens. In the event I don’t want anyone messaging me at all, I can reply STOP and Google will make the nice people on the Internet go away. Handy. The texts work as normal, meaning they count as part of your messaging plan so don’t get all weepy if you get your bill and have been charged for a bajillion text messages to random 406 numbers.

Check out SMS for Gmail by activating Text Messaging (SMS) in Labs.

  • hellwig
    Another freakin Lab project? Jesus Google, commit to something besides your crappy browser.

    Besides, Yahoo! has had this for months now. Don't know if you can block SMS texts to your phone though, I'll have to look into that, if I had friends who texted me, or friends at all :(.
    Reply
  • gm0n3y
    I've written a few programs that can send text to cell phones, and its trivial to allow them to reply back. Seriously, I could write an app that would send and receive texts in a couple of hours. I use something like this all the time on my own website to notify me of urgent issues on the server and I can reply to the message with a command that gets sent and then runs on the server. Of course, my cell company allows me to receive text messages via email (555-555-5555@provider.com) and the replies just go to the email of whoever sent the original message.
    Reply
  • jwl3
    Way cool but the bills can roll up quickly for the recipient. Every time you hit "Enter", you send an SMS which means that it can cost the recipient anywhere from 5-20 cents.
    Reply
  • gm0n3y
    Don't most people have plans with unlimited messaging?
    Reply