Google Labs India has introduced a feature (it’s no longer new, a LOT of people are using it!) called Google SMS Channels for Indian Users.

The Basic concept behind this service is that people can get access to updates from websites which offer RSS feeds directly to their Mobiles instead of having to go Online to Check for them in services such as Google Reader, via Internet Explorer/Mozilla or via RSS software such as Great News… Websites which provide RSS feeds include News websites like The Hindu and The Times of India, Sports Websites (particularly cricket websites, so the whole of India should be headed to Google now!) and interestingly, personal and professional blogs have RSS feeds too, which means that when You Update your Blog next time, People can get an update about it on their mobile phones! Talk about Popularity!

Now here’s the deal- I’ll tell you how to make an SMS Channel in Google Labs and you’ll tell me what it is and I’ll join it! Sounds good??

Here goes…
Step 1. Open Google Labs

google labs

Scroll Down a bit and you will come to the Link saying Google SMS Channels

At this point, If you have not yet logged into your Google Account (basically your Gmail Account, but now it’s a universal login which you can use for all your Google Services…), then you will be asked to do so.

Since this is the first time you are logging into Google SMS Channels, you will be asked to fill up a Nickname and your Mobile Number for verification. IMP- Keep Your Cell Phone Handy for this step!

Step 2. Fill up a nice NickName for yourself and before you enter your mobile number, click on the button besides the name and verify that you have it!

Next, fill up your mobile phone number and click on the Verify Button… Within a few seconds, you will recieve a verification code on your mobile as an sms and the page on your screen will change to allow you Accept the Terms & Conditions of use and fill up the verification code from your mobile…

Once you’ve done that, Congratulations! You are ready to use Google SMS Channels!

Step 3. I highly recommend that you play around with the SMS channels for a while before making your own but for those in a hurry, skip to Step 4.

Ok, now your phone is ready to recieve messages from Google, but what SMSs do you want?? The First page displays the Editor’s Picks and are a large number of very popular Channels which people access, the top-most being, No prizes for the Correct Guess, Cricket!

So what’re you waiting for? Click on the Subscribe button right now and start getting sms updates from this Channel!

User Note: It is important to understand that most of the Channels you use will be made by either websites promoting themselves or some product, thus it is advisable that before subscribing, you Click on the Channel’s name and see it’s details, as you scroll down, you will see the POSTS being made by the Channel in recent times, thus giving you an idea about how good the Channel is…

Now, another interesting feature of SMS Channels is the search option given at the top right of the pages, simply type what you need and you’ll see a great list of Channels which provide the same!

Step 4- Till now you’ve seen how we can join Channels made by others, but what you really want to see is How to make Channels for yourself!

So here goes…

On the Right side, just below the Search option, we have the Create Your Own Channel option…

Simply Click on Try Now to get Started on making your channel…

First, you have to Give your Channel a NAME.. Remember that Spaces and Apostrophes ( ‘ ) are now allowed, so make sure you give a short and sweet name to your Channel.

Then do the Check Availability Test to see if you’re there first… In case this is a Channel for your blog, you needn’t worry much, it’ll most probably be available…

Next, put a description about your Channel… If you want more members to access your Channel, better have a good description!

After this, please Select A category and your location. For Blogs, I suggest that you put the category as Other and in case you don’t want to fill up a location, choose None…

I would, however, suggest that you select a location, because some times people want to search for Channels from a specific location and they’ll sure like to join a local Channel!

Now here come’s the most important part… Selecting the SOURCE:

The source of the Channel is where you’ll be getting the updates from.

As the options Suggest, You can either select a BlogSpot Blog, A Google Group, A Google News Feed and even some other Blog or website which has RSS or Atom Feeds…

Here’s a Small explanation…

1. If there is a Blogspot blog you want to follow or have one of your own, Select the Blogger Option and put the name of the BlogSpot Blog, Google will automatically pick up the Updates from the Blog and serve them to you on a Platter!

An example of a BlogSpot Blog being accessed this way is given below:

http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/channel/SahilKhannaBlog

This is a Channel for Sahil Khanna’s BlogSpot blog…

2. Google Allows you to follow any one of its Groups via SMS Channels. Those of you who are not familiar with Google Groups may Visit:

http://groups.google.com/

and join up any group of their interest, from knitting to UNIX and even horse riding! Alternatively, you can simply follow groups via SMS Channels…

3. The third option and frankly the least used is Google News. This option is such that if you want Google to give you an update whenever something related is in the News, just fill in the Keywords You want.

I filled up “Nitin Khanna Chandigarh” without the double quotes as keywords iin one of the Channels I made and whenever some businessman in or near Chandigarh by the name of Nitin Khanna dies in a road accident, I get an SMS from Google! 😀

4. Finally, my favorite, the RSS/Atom Feed Option. This option is a little tricky to use but also the best if you have a Blog on nonBlogger sites or want to follow websites like The Hindu, Hindustan Times and The Times of India which publish their own RSS feeds…

Here’s an example of the TimesOfIndia Channel…

http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/channel/ToiNewsAlerts

Also, here’s the link to my Channel for this WordPress Blog of mine…

http://labs.google.co.in/smschannels/channel/NitinsBlog

This just shows you how to select the source for your Channel…

Ok, now that you have selected the source, you need to make sure that your Settings are right.

The Delivery Schedule is best kept at Throughtout the day and if you are making a public Channel, specially for your blog, the Allow Publishing by option should be at Only Me.

A Public Channel must be set to Any User can Subscribe and if you want only Selected few to use this Channel, you can Select the “By Invitation Only” option…

Final Step! Just Click on the Create Channel Button and Voila! Your Channel has been created… You can at any time come back to Google SMS Channels to change any of the settings of Your Channels, which will be available in a list Called My Channels when you login next time…

Having trouble?

In case you are thinking why you don’t get more than 10 SMSs from Google in a day, Click the Settings Link at the top right of the page and hewre you may change your nickname and mobile number (You are limited to having only 1 mobile number registered at a time) and even the number of SMS you may recieve during the day and the Timings when you may recieve SMSs!

Be Warned: I once set my sms limit to 99 and Start Time to 4 AM and End Time to 3:30 AM.

That Day I recieved every News from the TimesOfindia Channel and had more GK about that day than Competition Success Review!

You have just now been informed about the Awesomeness of Google SMS Channels…

Next, we will be discussing:

How To: Create A custom Widget to Allow Google Users to Join your Blog’s Google SMS Channel!


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