Mar 15, 2008

eMail To SMS Messaging

A reader recently emailed me telling me how disappointed he was at not being able to use the exceptional threaded SMS messaging application on his new Centro because his company had (rather stupidly) decided not to support Messaging plans for any of its team.

He asked me if I knew of any other solution that might still enable him to send SMS messages to friends and associates (and vice versa) even though he did not have a Messaging plan.

I have to admit that the question took me a bit by surprise as I had thus far assumed that pretty much everybody would have access to SMS. Finding the answer to his problem proved to be considerably more time consuming than I had originally expected but I did eventually find a couple of suitable solutions and learned quite a bit in the process.

Treo and Centro threaded SMSThe first part of the answer was the simple fact that unfortunately without an active Messaging plan there is simply no way that one can use the terrific built-in Messaging application (right screenshot) on the Treo or Centro smartphone.

There is however a fairly simple alternative as I discovered that you can just write an email and have it automatically delivered to a friend/associate’s SMS messaging inbox.

There are two ways to go about this. The first applies if you already know what carrier your recipient uses – you will be able to simply use one of the emails below :

AT&T: phonenumber
Virgin Mobile:

phonenumber = the 10 digit phone number you want to message
(For example 3105552244 if you’re contacting someone on Verizon Wireless)

The second option applies if you don’t know (and/or don’t want to know) the carrier for every single one of the contacts that you’ll want to message. For this I found a very simple and free service called flipOut which allows you to send SMS via email to _any_ carrier without the need to remember the above complex messaging email address for that carrier.

After signing up to the free flipOut service you’ll simply be able to use the following email address to send (see screenshot below) and receive a message via email to any wireless carrier number:

All Mobile Phones: phonenumber
(For example: 3105552244


[Please note that you can unfortunately currently use flipOut to send messages to US mobile phones only.]

FlipOut Sent Message FlipOut Reply

While all of your outbound and inbound email to SMS messages will be free you should nonetheless have to be polite and considerate as many of your recipients may be charged for your incoming SMS messages. You should also restrict your messages to no more than 120 characters (including Subject and Body) as flipOut uses an automatic signature that is 40 characters long and any longer messages will mean that multiple SMS are sent to your recipient.

Evidently this type of email to SMS setup can be used by anybody not only those people unlucky not to have a Messaging plan. For example, if you’re at the office or home it may prove considerably easier and faster to type an SMS message from your PC than from your smartphone.

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