SMS services to make your standard cell phone smart

by Kevin Purdy -- Mobile data plans are anything but cheap, but text message plans run roughly $5 per month for unlimited use. Keep some free and seriously useful SMS services in your address book, and you're only paying $5 per month for the most essential elements of the web.

If you're a heavy Google user, the Mountain View giant is happy to correspond via text message. Verify your phone number with Google Calendar, and you can text key words like "day" to GVENT (48368) to get your schedule for that day. Google's basic web search and local functions are available via SMS, too--you can text GOOGLE (466453) queries like "directions buffalo ny to philadelphia pa" to plan out your cheesesteak fix, "weather 92111" for the San Diego forecast, and much more.

[ Get more functionality from your smartphone with these time-saving apps ]

If you're a fan of photo sharing service Flickr, task manager Remember the Milk, or the remember-everything-always note taker Evernote, you can use them with SMS as well. Most phones can send a text message to an email address, and these three web apps--along with others--offer their users "secret" email addresses to send to. Log in from a web browser, head to your account settings, and look up your personalized email upload address, and save it to your phone. Now you can send camera phone shots to Flickr with proper tags and descriptions, add contextual tasks to your to-do list, and capture gift ideas as you find them.

When you're traveling on your own dime or the company's, a few other free SMS services can make the process less painful on your wallet, and maybe your waist. Sign up with Xpenser to back up and augment your wrinkled receipts. Once you've hooked up your phone, you can text message, or call a toll-free number, with a message like "lunch 31 dollars at Austin sales conference," and Xpenser stashes away that potential write-off or expense report item with the relevant date and time. Not sure if you need to rush to that cab for an already-late flight? Text Google SMS your flight number and airline, or try the even better flight info at 4INFO by texting 44636 with your airline and flight. You'll get back flight status and time estimates quicker than you can call the airline. Finally, if you're inclined to find out just how much that Wendy's Crispy Chicken Sandwich at the airport will cost you in calories, text it or any menu item to via DIET1 (34381)

You might get so enthused about SMS data queries that they fill up your phone's address book, replacing your poor friend George with Google in quick-find ranking. Sign up with txtful, and you can take those contact slots back. After authorizing or signing into services like Netflix, reservation-maker OpenTable, or even bank accounts at Bank of America or Chase, you simply text TXTFUL (898385) with a shortcut you choose at the front. That way, "facebook So glad I don't have to pay for a data plan!" becomes your new Facebook status message, and you didn't have to pay a ransom to put it up.

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