Tech Time: Text Messaging

Trust me. Everyone is doing it, so why aren’t you?

Text messaging refers to using SMS (Short Message Service) to exchange short text messages between mobile phones. SMS text messaging is not network specific, meaning that you can send a message to virtually any mobile phone anywhere in the world ... as long as you know the number of the phone you want to send the message to.

SMS text messages are usually limited to 160 characters and that includes spaces.

If you don’t have a phone (or credit), you can still send text messages to phones using the ‘email to SMS gateway’ or through various online services (see The service is usually free, but has the same length restrictions. Also the protocol is different for each network, so you’ll have to know what network the receiver phone is on, unlike traditional SMS.

Now, when entering a text message on a ‘traditional’ phone key pad, there are two primary options, multi-tap and predictive text.

Using multi-tap, a key is pressed multiple times to access the list of letters on that key. For successive letters, you will have to pause or press next. Multi-tap is straight forward, so you can type without looking, but it’s not very efficient because many keystrokes are needed for virtually every letter.

In a perfect world, predictive text reduces the number of keystrokes. Predictive text may come up as T9 or SureType depending on your brand of phone. Predictive text uses a dictionary or user database to identify common words. Once you start typing, predictive text brings up a list of word options that match that keystroke combination. Sometimes, it brings up the wrong word. For example, the words good, home, gone, hoof and hood all use the same four letter keystroke combination. So read what you type before you send it.

Tech tip: Do not send or read text messages when driving.

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