Google Shuts Down SMS Search, Angers People Who Had Forgotten It Existed

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
May 13 2013 12:50 PM

Google Shuts Down SMS Search, Angers People Who Had Forgotten It Existed

R.I.P. Google SMS search
R.I.P. Google SMS search

Screenshot

Here’s another one for the Google Graveyard.

Users of Google’s once-popular SMS search function found last week that texting search queries to 466453—“GOOGLE” on alphanumeric keypads—no longer works. Instead of texting back search results, Google responds with a short message noting that the service “has been shutdown” (sic) and that you can continue to search the Web by visiting google.com (duh). Meanwhile, the Web page that used to explain how SMS search works appears to have been taken down entirely.

Advertisement

For the majority of Americans who own smartphones, this would seem unlikely to come as a major blow. That hasn’t stopped people from griping about the move on Google product forums, though. The annoyance from folks who still have feature phones without data plans is understandable, given that Google apparently gave no advance warning. But the legitimate frustrations seem to be mixing with generalized ill will toward Mountain View from people who haven’t used SMS search in years, if they ever did.

I remember SMS search as a pretty handy trick on my old flip-phone. It offered a way to quickly and easily look up directions, phone numbers, or the score of a game on a phone that either couldn’t browse the Web or took forever to load a page. Still, it’s hard to blame Google for shutting it down. It basically provided the service as a public good, and now that most of the public no longer needs it, it makes sense for Google to stop paying for it. Instead of blasting Google for discontinuing SMS search, let’s take a second to appreciate the fact that it continued providing it long after most of us had forgotten it existed.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

The Best Thing About the People’s Climate March in NYC

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

John Oliver Debunks the Miss America Pageant’s Claim That It Gives Out $45 Million in Scholarships

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 22 2014 1:29 PM “That’s Called Jim Crow” Philip Gourevitch on America’s hypocritical interventions in Africa.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 2:55 PM Nuptial Expert Sarkozy Worries About Gay Marriage and the Family
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM Escaping the Extreme Christian Fundamentalism of "Quiverfull"
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Television
Sept. 22 2014 2:12 PM Crusader, Sans Cape The superhero trappings of Gotham are just a clever disguise.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.