Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cool Free Service: 4INFO

What's the address and phone number of that restaurant? What are the movie times? These are questions I often faced while out and about with my wife. I didn't have a data plan on my antiquated, push-button only phone nor did I want to pay $2 for a directory service call to my carrier. I was frustrated with a lack of options until I discovered 4INFO. 4INFO is a Silicon Valley startup that provides a free query service to find information (similar to a web browser on your pc) via text messaging. Did I mention that it's free! Okay, nothing is "free" so what's the catch? A small advertisement at the bottom of the resulting text message is all you have to endure. Say I'm at the Redwood City Starbucks on Whipple Avenue, and want to find the movies in Redwood City (California), I would text: movies 94062 (or a shortcut is M 94062) to 44636 (4INFO's short code). Subsequently, I replied "1" to the text message to get specific movie information at the Century Redwood City 20.

It's fast, free, and easy-to-use. There are shortcuts you can look at on their website. Here are some examples you could text to 44636:
  • N CHI (for current news about Chicago)
  • W 94062 (for weather in Redwood City) or W NYC (weather in New York City)
  • STARBUCK 94062 (list of the Starbucks in Redwood City)
  • AAPL (to get the current or closing price of Apple Computers)
Besides these simple queries, you can also set up alerts that are regularly delivered to your mobile phone for specific information such as weather conditions, stock prices, sports scores, jokes of the day, etc. When you no longer want the alert, you reply STOP to the specific alert or manage all of your 4INFO alerts through their management interface: Manage Alerts

Anyways, it's a cool service that I use all the time now. Try it out. You may get hooked (and it may save your marriage while trying to locate places!).