Mobile search services like Google SMS are fine if you’re just looking for a bit of information and you don’t have a computer handy. But what if you want to stay right on top of the latest news, stock prices, sports scores, or other critical info — and you don’t want to go to the trouble of sending an SMS request just to check for updates?
That’s where a notification service like Yahoo! Alerts comes in. With Yahoo! Alerts, you enter your mobile number, sign up for the information you want, and then Yahoo sends you an SMS text message whenever there’s news.
You’ll need a Yahoo ID to sign up for this service. (You can create one for free if you don’t already have one.) Just go to alerts.yahoo.com and sign in. Then you can choose from a menu of alerts: sports scores, breaking news, weather, traffic, and even notices that a stock you’re tracking has moved up or down a certain amount. Once you’ve clicked on a menu item, you select additional detail (such as the city whose weather you want to know about) and tell Yahoo how you want the news delivered: via email, Yahoo! Messenger, or via mobile.
If you choose the “mobile” delivery option, you’ll need to register your mobile phone with Yahoo, a process that ensures you don’t sign up someone else’s number. The process has four steps but it’s not that hard: You need to tell Yahoo what your cell phone’s number is, what your carrier is, and what type of phone you have. Then Yahoo sends your phone a 5-digit confirmation code via SMS. Once you’ve entered that code in the Yahoo Alerts site, then your phone is ready to receive alerts from Yahoo.
Some of the alerts Yahoo offers (such as Movie Recommendations) are only available via email, not SMS — but most of them can be sent to your phone. If you want a convenient way to check the traffic, the market, or the news on your phone, it’s hard to beat the convenience of these alerts.
One caution: You can quickly run up steep text messaging charges if you’re receiving a lot of alerts. For that reason Yahoo lets you limit the number of SMS messages it sends you per day. Set this limit with care — a 10 message per day limit could still get pricey if you’re paying 10 or 25 cents per SMS.