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Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better, Third Edition by Gina Trapani, Adam Pash

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Hack 86: Make Your “Dumbphone” Smarter via Text Message

Level Medium

Platform A mobile phone with text messaging

Cost Dependent on your mobile phone plan

You’re out and about town and you need movie times at theaters nearby, a reminder to feed the parking meter in 60 minutes, and the weather forecast. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a laptop or even a tricked-out smartphone with an Internet connection to complete all these tasks: you can do it directly from any phone that can send text messages.

Here’s how it works: You send a text message that contains a short code — such as w 90210 or m 11215, to check the weather or get movie times. Then, you receive a message response back on your mobile phone within a minute. Take a look at how to do this with a few SMS-enabled tools.

Search the Web via Text Message

Web search engine Google offers SMS search results to your cell phone via text message on the spot. All you have to do is text your query to 466453 — which, if you notice on your phone’s keypad, are the corresponding numbers for GOOGLE. The following table provides a list of common tasks, the queries to send, and example replies.

Task Message Reply
Find a Wi-Fi hotspot wifi 11215 Local Listings: Tea Lounge 837 Union Street New York
Find a local business taxi Marietta, OH Ohio Valley Cab & Delivery 311 Lancaster Street Marietta, 45750-2738 1 (740) 374-8294
pizza 11215 Local Listings: Two Boots of Brooklyn Inc 514 2nd Street New York

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