Wednesday, July 28, 2010

WotW: Google when you're on the go

Happy Wednesday! If your week (and summer) has been like mine, you have spent a lot of time on the road and out of the house. Did you know that when you're out and about, Google can still help you find what you're looking for, no smart phone required? Google offers two different FREE (because that's the Google way) services to help you find what you're looking for when you're on the town or on vacation.
image source
Goog-411 is just like traditional 411, but without the surcharge from your phone or cell phone company. (If you are normally charged for making a phone call or receiving a text message, those rates will still apply, but you won't be charged the regular fee for making a 411 call.) 

Just dial 1-800-GOOG-411 from any phone (mobile or land-line), speak your location or type in the zip code, and then say what you're looking for: pizza delivery, hotel, craft store, etc. You'll hear a numbered list of results. You choose which one you want by saying that number, and Goog-411 connects you to that business, free of charge.

Want a text message with the business information or a map? As long as you're calling from a mobile device that can receive text messages, just say "Text message" or "Map it." Get more information about Goog-411 here.

image source
If you're on the go and want to avoid making a phone call, you can also use Google SMS (Short Message Service, aka text messaging). (Standard message rates apply, so if you're paying for your messages, Goog-411 might be the better way to go. In my limited experience. most results require more than one text message.)

For local results such as businesses, just text your zip code or city and state along with what you're looking for to GOOGLE (466453) on your mobile phone. This would have been handy to have on my recent road trip. A simple "Chevron The Dalles OR" would have saved us the fifteen minutes spend driving from one end of town to the other, even if it is a nice town with a beautiful view!

You can get results beyond this by using shortcuts. Text
  • W for weather (w nyc or w 90210)
  • M for movies (m 84526)
  • D for definitions (d onomatopoeia)
  • price for a product (price ipod)
You can also text a flight number (such as ua 14) to see if the plane will be on time, a sports team (such as ny jets) to see the score of the game, or a stock symbol (such as goog) to check in on a stock. Go here or text HELP to GOOGLE for more information about Google SMS.

As a Googlephile, I feel much more secure in knowing that I have access to Google's services even when I'm not at my computer. Hopefully you will too, even if your relationship with Google is less akin to idol worship than mine...

And a special announcement: For the month of August, Wednesdays will be all about usability: helping your readers to find the information they're looking for on your blog as easily as possible. My nerdy technical-writer usability-loving self will definitely be showing, but I promise you that spending a month of Wednesdays talking about usability will NOT make you a nerd. :) Feel free to comment here or email me using the email in my profile with any specific question or requests.

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about books, crafts, recipes, and whatever else comes up at just Lu.


Brandy said...

very cool. thanks for sharing.

Laura PARING DOWN said...

That's awesome. I love my iPhone 4 (and have a cute pink case to mask the reception problem), and I use it all the time with Google.

My daughter, who is in New York finalizing the lease on her Brooklyn apartment, called me to tell her where she was!

She gave me her cross streets and where she wanted to go. I checked Google maps, gave her directions, and used the street view to tell her what the sign to the store looked like.


Rebecca Watson said...

I actually do some work with google for my job- and I love them! google is amazing to work with! thanks for sharing! :)

Katie @ On the Banks of Squaw Creek said...

No way! That is so cool!!!

Debbie said...

I had no idea these services existed! Thanks for the info.

Blogging tips