CBS News Logo Text Messaging Explodes In America

For the second quarter of 2008, U.S. mobile subscribers sent and received on average 357 text messages per month, compared with making and receiving 204 phone calls a month, according to Nielsen. The new statistic is a clear indication that Americans have jumped onto the SMS text bandwagon. In the first quarter of 2006, Americans sent and received 65 text messages per month. The number of messages sent and received today has increased 450 percent. But even though people are texting more, it doesn't mean that they've stopped talking on the phone. According to Nielsen, the number of phone calls that people make and receive each month has remained relatively flat over the past two years. The wireless industry's trade association, CTIA, recently noted the explosion in texting in its own report. It recently reported that for the month of June, American cell phone subscribers sent about 75 billion SMS text messages, averaging about 2.5 billion messages per day. This represents an increase of 160 percent over the 28.8 billion messages reported in June 2007. Short Message Service, or SMS, text messaging first became popular in Europe and Asia, because it was much cheaper to send short text messages than make an actual phone call. In countries such as the Philippines, the cost of sending one text is less than a penny. And in Europe where cell phone users are still penalized with high roaming charges between countries, texting is still a more economical form of communication. But in the U.S. texting is proving to be a cash cow for carriers. Over the past two years, the cost of sending and receiving individual text messages without a special text message package has gone up 100 percent with individual text messages costing 20 cents per message. Carriers are now offering unlimited cell phone texting plans that cost an additional $20 a month, which makes sending texts more affordable for heavy texters. The surge in text messaging is being driven by teens 13 to 17 years old, who Continue Reading

How to Send Text Messages From Gmail

Last Updated Dec 11, 2008 12:00 PM EST When a phone call is too intrusive and e-mail is too slow, nothing beats a text message. Google just rolled out a new feature that lets you send text messages straight from Gmail to a contact's phone. To enable this option, open Gmail, click on Settings, then go to the Labs tab. Scroll down until you see "Text Messaging (SMS) in Chat" and select Enable and Save Changes. For the moment, "Gmail SMS" works only with cell phones that have U.S. phone numbers. To get started, type a phone number into the search box in Gmail's chat window on the left, then select "Send SMS." You can also select the contact you want to SMS first and then add their phone number. This isn't just a one-way operation: You can actually "chat" via SMS this way. Your message arrives on the recipient's phone; replies get routed back to your Gmail chat window. Definitely a handy tool for desk-bound workers, as texting from a keyboard is a lot quicker and easier than texting from a phone. Of course, we've covered this concept before: Web service Joopz enables two-way texting from within your Web browser. Continue Reading

Permanently Erase Sensitive Text Messages

Last Updated Mar 8, 2010 9:56 AM EST Can your business e-mails be subpoenaed? Absolutely. That's one reason I've recommended that you avoid e-mail when you can -- it's forever, and courts can get their hands on it. But what about text messages? Yes, they're fair game as well. If you're looking for a way to limit your legal exposure from text messages, I've got just the thing for you. Tiger Text is a phone app that lets you send messages which live -- on both devices and the message server -- only as long as you specify. That means you can tell Tiger Text to erase all traces of your texts after one day, or even after one hour. Since Tiger bypasses your carrier's normal SMS service, both the sender and receiver must be using Tiger Text. The name is highly suggestive, but the company claims it has nothing to do with Tiger Woods. Color me dubious. In any event, Tiger Text is available now for the iPhone, with Android and BlackBerry versions on their way. The app and your first 100 texts are free. After that, you pay 99 cents for 250 messages or $1.99/month for unlimited messages. And if you want to keep your routine e-mails safe from being discovered years from now, check out how to Send Ultra-Secure, Self-Destructing E-mail. Continue Reading

Get Free Text-Message Reminders from Oh, Don’t Forget

Last Updated Apr 28, 2011 6:36 PM EDT You're heading into an afternoon meeting, but absolutely must remember to excuse yourself at 2:30 so you can get on the phone with your supplier. You need a reminder, one that'll be sure to get your attention. Oh, Don't Forget lets you schedule free text-message reminders. Just plug in your cell number, the date and time you want to receive the reminder, and your message. It's literally that simple. And that smart. ODF automatically determines your carrier and time zone, so you don't have to worry about those details -- nor even sign up for an account. Indeed, you can hit the site and set up a reminder in all of about 30 seconds, without having to register, wait on a verification e-mail, and all those other usual hassles. That said, there are some advantages to signing up for a Premium account. It lets you set up recurring messages (kind of like an SMS-powered to-do list), review message logs, maintain an address book, and so on. ODF Premium costs $4.95 per month or $47.50 annually. If you like the sound of that, AppSumo is running a promotion you might also like: a lifetime Oh, Don't Forget account for $50. (The offer expires at midnight tonight, however, so don't wait too long to make up your mind.) I have to say, I like ODF way better than TextMemos, which itself was a rather weak replacement for the now-defunct PingMe. It's great for creating simple, effective reminders -- not only for yourself, but also for your employees. ("Don't forget: Pick up my dry cleaning!") More on BNET: Ultimate Productivity Tool: A Snooze Button For Your Inbox Online Appointment Scheduling: Four Cool Services for Service Industries Divvyus: Task Delegation Made Easy Continue Reading

CBS News Logo Facebook denies allegations of reading users’ text messages

(CBS) - An explosive report by The Sunday Times is alleging that Facebook can access user text messages from the Android version of the social networking app. The claims prompted a fierce response from Facebook. Full coverage of Facebook at Tech Talk The story by the Times claimed that the Android Facebook was accessing users' text messages "as part of a trial to launch its own messaging service." While Facebook is being singled out, they are not alone. The Times article pointed out that nearly all app developers, from Apple to individual programmers, "gain access to the treasury of data when people agree to the terms and conditions of downloading an app." So, what's the truth? Facebook's European communications manager Iain Mackenzie fired off an angry note denying any development of a messaging app and called the report "disingenuous reporting." Mackenzie claimed Facebook did tell the Times that the company was "running a limited test of mobile features which integrate the SMS functionality." However, "SMS read/write is not currently implemented for most users of the mobile app.""A ludicrous attempt to cook-up a story about companies spying on users - spun out of our explanation that we delared[sic] the app permission to everyone even though we're only using it with selected people who know the score," Mackenzie said in the note. But, if only a handful of people who "know the score" have this function activated, why does everyone who has the app need to agree to those terms? Ultimately, there is no hard evidence that Facebook is reading people's text messages. Here are the permissions Android users grant to Facebook when they download the app. EDIT SMS OR MMS RECEIVE SMS READ SMS OR MMS "On the Android App store, the Facebook app permissions include SMS read/write," a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider. "The reason it is on there is because we have done some testing (not with the general public) of products that require the SMS part of the Continue Reading

CBS News Logo Cops to Congress: We need logs of Americans’ text messages

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and other wireless providers would be required to record and store information about Americans' private text messages for at least two years, according to a proposal that police have submitted to the U.S. Congress. CNET has learned a constellation of law enforcement groups has asked the U.S. Senate to require that wireless companies retain that information, warning that the lack of a current federal requirement "can hinder law enforcement investigations." They want an SMS retention requirement to be "considered" during congressional discussions over updating a 1986 privacy law for the cloud computing era -- a move that could complicate debate over the measure and erode support for it among civil libertarians. As the popularity of text messages has exploded in recent years, so has their use in criminal investigations and civil lawsuits. They have been introduced as evidence in armed robbery, cocaine distribution, and wire fraud prosecutions. In one 2009 case in Michigan, wireless provider SkyTel turned over the contents of 626,638 SMS messages, a figure described by a federal judge as "staggering." Chuck DeWitt, a spokesman for the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, which represents the 63 largest U.S. police forces including New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago, said "all such records should be retained for two years." Some providers, like Verizon, retain the contents of SMS messages for a brief period of time, while others like T-Mobile do not store them at all. Along with the police association, other law enforcement groups making the request to the Senate include the National District Attorneys' Association, the National Sheriffs' Association, and the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, DeWitt said. "This issue is not addressed in the current proposal before the committee and yet it will become even more important in the future," the groups warn. That's a reference to the Senate Continue Reading

CBS News Logo Father of text messages reflects on 20th anniversary of first SMS message

The so-called father of text messages commemorated the occasion via a rare interview that appropriately enough was conducted via text messages. Chatting with the BBC yesterday, Matti Makkonen took credit for conceiving and fleshing out SMS, or short message service. But he lived up to his title as its "reluctant father" by making it clear that others actually developed the technology. "I did not consider SMS as personal achievement but as result of joint effort to collect ideas and write the specifications of the services based on them," he told the BBC. Sent on December 3, 1992, the first text went from a PC to a mobile device over Vodafone's U.K. network and expressed the simple message "Merry Christmas." Makkonen had initially suggested the idea back in 1984 at a telecommunications conference, according to the BBC. Yet SMS didn't come to life until engineers incorporated it as part of their work on the then-budding GSM standard. In spite of the text's 20th birthday, Makkonen feels the technology actually was launched in 1994 when Nokia unveiled its 2010 mobile phone, the first device that let people easily write messages. Makkonen didn't make any money off his idea, telling the BBC that he didn't think the invention could be patented. How does the "reluctant father" use his invention? He avoids textspeak, saying that "my passion is to write correct language (Finnish), using all 160 characters." But he does see texting as a way for language to develop by using more symbols and fewer characters. And unlike many people who text, Makkonen seems to take his time when composing a message on his mobile device. "I love touchscreen," he texted the BBC. "Slow enough to think and sometimes even edit what I write." Makkonen is currently CEO of Anvia Oyj, a Finnish-based provider of telecommunication services.This article originally appeared on CNET. Continue Reading

CBS News Logo SOS via SMS: Help for suicidal teens is a text message away

With younger generations using cellphones less for actual conversation and more for text messaging, suicide prevention organizations are setting up ways that let distraught youths seek help that way. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers and college-age adults, making a text messaging initiative - started this month by Samaritans Inc. of Massachusetts to supplement the more traditional phone help line - a natural, Executive Director Steve Mongeau said. Nearly 5,300 U.S. residents younger than 24 took their own lives in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available, according to the Washington, D.C.-based American Association of Suicidology. The latest suicide report by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health indicates that 90 state residents ages 5 to 24 killed themselves in 2012. "We want you, as a person in need, to be able to use the communication platform you feel most comfortable with," Mongeau said, adding that Samaritans is the first suicide prevention organization in Massachusetts to offer the texting option. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has offered text help for suicidal veterans for several years. The Crisis Text Line, founded in 2013 to give teens in trouble a way to reach help via text, sees 16,000 text messages exchanged daily with counselors. A third of those exchanges are related to depression and suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also offers text messaging help at many of its more than 160 crisis centers nationwide. That organization found that nearly 40 percent of people reaching out for help using its online chat option indicated they would not feel comfortable seeking help by phone. Young people may not be able to articulate their feelings in a phone conversation, said Dr. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research at the America Foundation for Suicide Prevention, yet their emotions became crystal clear in a text conversation. "What we found is that parents would look at Continue Reading

Q&A: How do I back up text messages?

Question: How do I back up my text messages?Answer. It helps a lot if you use an Android phone, where your only hard part is deciding which app you want to use for the job.And on that operating system, one of the most popular choices is the free SMS Backup+. Once you connect the app to your Gmail account, it automatically backs up your texts and multimedia messages to Gmail (or any other e-mail service that supports IMAP synchronization), where you'll find them under an "SMS" label.(Having this app be open-source, meaning anybody can inspect its code line by line, puts me more at ease with the level of system access it requests.)I've also tried a newer competitor named Uppidy that copies texts to a password-protected page — which makes for a slightly cleaner presentation than shoveling them into an e-mailbox. But storing picture and video messages requires buying a $1.99 "Uppidy+" app, something this Washington, D.C., startup's site does not make clear.Your wireless carrier may also have solutions of its own. AT&T offers a Messages app that syncs text messages, plus voicemails and your call log, between your phone, tablet or computer. Verizon recently introduced a similar service, also named Messages — although it syncs only the last 90 days' worth of texts.What about iOS? Apple's security model, in which add-on apps generally can't read other apps' data, prohibits the kind of backup app that abounds in Android. You could jailbreak your iPhone to get around that restriction, but it's easier to connect your iPhone to a Mac or PC and use a program on that computer to pluck the messages off your phone.The two I demoed, eCamm Network's PhoneView (Mac only, $29.95) and Wide Angle Software's TouchCopy (Mac and Windows, $29.95), could have been separated at birth. Both are general-purpose iPhone-backup tools that get your text messages along with everything else, both won't work without iTunes installed, and both made me wait for 15 minutes or more while Continue Reading

‘Smishing’ scams target your text messages. Here’s how to avoid them

While the name of this growing threat might sound funny, being a victim of it is no joke. Similar to a “phishing” scam — where computer users receive an authentic-looking email that appears to be from their bank, Internet Service Provider (ISP), favorite store, or other organization – “smishing” messages are sent to you via SMS (text message) on your mobile phone. What does the sender want? To defraud you. “Criminals like smishing because users tend to trust text messages, as opposed to email, of which many people are more suspicious, due to phishing attacks,” says Stephen Cobb, a security researcher at ESET, a global cybersecurity company. “As smartphones are the primary means of accessing the Internet in some countries, this has tempted criminals around the world to invest in scams that target these devices.” “That means there is no shortage of skills in this space, skills that criminals can tap to target cellphone users in any country they chose,” Cobb adds. Related:    Cybercriminals are trying to lure you into providing account information — such as a login name, password or credit card info — by tapping on a link that takes you to a web site. Here they can get enough info to steal your identity. Or you might be asked to answer questions via text message or advised to call a phone number. In some cases, you’ll receive a text message with a sense of urgency: • Dear customer, Bank of America needs you to verify your PIN number immediately to confirm you’re the proper account holder. Some accounts have been breached. We urgently ask you to protect yourself by confirming your info here. Sometimes, scammers try to capitalize on something timely, like tax filing season: • “IRS Notice: Tax Return File Overdue! Click here to enter your information to prevent being prosecuted.” Or, perhaps, it will come in the form Continue Reading