Google just announced a new feature that will give better web access to users in Africa. The project is called Gmail SMS. The application allows users to receive emails via text message, rather than having a computer or an Internet connection.
Google SMS is available in Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya. It is going to be made available in other countries where Internet connections are hard to come by, keeping millions of Africans connected to the rest of the world.
Google is announcing plans to expand the program to other African countries. To date, users effectively have to register their phone with Google, and they will then receive all the perks that come with having regular email access.
The plan has been criticized for not being secure enough, and also for allowing Google to harvest phone numbers from millions of African consumers. These numbers can be sold to third party vendors or used in the future to sell products.
“You can now send and receive emails as SMS messages using your mobile phone, regardless of whether or not your phone has an internet connection, like Wi-Fi or 3G,” said Geva Rechav, one of the managers of the project.
“You can control the emails received by replying with commands such as MORE, PAUSE and RESUME. Additionally, compose a new email as an SMS and send to any email address recipient – who will find your message in the right email conversation thread!” said Rechav.
The security problems are likely not going to stop people from signing up for the service. But there is clearly a plan by Google to amass as much global power as it can. Sometimes, you feel that Google is going to become another government.