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Kirk to Engineering: What About SMS with Java?

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The communicators that we fantasized about in Star Trek are a reality today. Learning to program for SMS provides the up-and-coming Java developer with a ticket to that future.

Short Message Service (SMS) is a compelling technology. It's a service—provided in most cell phones—that allows for sending and receiving of text messages. Getting text messages anytime, anywhere turns your little cell phone into a powerful but unobtrusive notification device. SMS is way cool. And using it with Java is way cooler.

To help you get started using these features, this article slams through a quick overview of working with SMS:

  • Details you need to send SMS messages using a cell phone connected to your PC

  • Third-party SMS gateway technology that you can use with Java

  • Sky-high overview of the Wireless Toolkit that works with the Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME)

I'll assume that you know fundamental Java, and that you've used a cell phone to send or receive an SMS message. I also assume that you have a marginal understanding of SMS and Java 2 Micro Edition.

SMS 101

SMS allows you to use a cell phone (and other SMS-enabled mobile devices) to send up to 160 characters to another SMS-enabled device, such as a PDA, mobile phone, or SMS-enabled computer. SMS is very popular in Europe and Asia-Pacific regions primarily because cell phone costs are determined on a call-by-call, minute-by-minute basis, not on the bulk-usage plans common in North America. As a result, communicating via SMS is much cheaper than communicating by voice, particularly from country to country— and there are a lot of countries in those regions.

SMS is growing in popularity in the U.S., most noticeably among high school and college students for passing digital notes in class. No joke. Cell phones are cheap now; it's quite common for a high school kid to have one. During a long American History class, what better way to pass the time with your buddies than to turn off the phone's ringer and send SMS notes silently back and forth?

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