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SMS Messaging Using the Pocket PC

by Wei-Meng Lee
12/13/2002

Recently, I wrote about using a Mac and a Bluetooth-enabled phone to send SMS messages. While it's definitely convenient to use the Mac to send messages when you are in the office (or an iBook when on the road), it would be even better if you could do it with a more portable device like PDA. In this article I will show you how you could send and receive SMS messages on your phone using a Pocket PC.

I will use my iPaq 3870 (a Pocket PC 2002 device), the Ericsson T68i phone, and the Simple SMS application from Visual IT Software. Simple SMS supports Bluetooth and cable connections to your Pocket PC. Besides using Bluetooth, you can also use infrared to connect your Pocket PC to your phone, something that is useful if your phone does not support Bluetooth.

Downloading and installing Simple SMS

You can download the demo version of Simple SMS v3.0 from http://www.visualit.co.uk/simplesms.htm. The demo version is fully functional, but you're limited to sending messages of 25 characters or less.

Installation is simple; expand the downloaded ZIP file and double click on the executable. The next time your Pocket PC is synchronized via ActiveSync, Simple SMS will be installed on your Pocket PC.

Simple SMS on the Pocket PC
Figure 1. Simple SMS on the Pocket PC

Before you use Simple SMS, you need to pair up your Pocket PC and your Bluetooth-enabled phone. Once that is done, you can connect to the serial port on the phone:

Using the Serial Port of the Bluetooth connection
Figure 2. Using the Serial Port of the Bluetooth connection

Next you need to start Simple SMS on your Pocket PC and do some configurations:

 Configuring the Simple SMS
Figure 3. Configuring the Simple SMS

I will use my phone's network setting to send SMS messages, so I need to check "Use phone Service Centre". I also enabled "Delete messages after receive". The reason is that if messages are left on the phone, Simple SMS will download each message every time I check for new messages, even though old messages have already been downloaded. So, to save time, I chose to have the messages archived on my Pocket PC.

Configuring the Simple SMS
Figure 4. Configuring the Simple SMS

You can also choose to use other serial ports for the Bluetooth connection (see Figure 3, View -> Options -> General). Once the configuration is done, you are ready to send and receive messages.

The first thing you might want to do is to download whatever messages you have on your phone to the Pocket PC. To do so, click on the Send and Receive button:

Viewing received messages
Figure 5. Viewing received messages

You may also use the Actions -> Receive options to download all the messages from your phone:

Receiving messages from the phone
Figure 6. Receiving messages from the phone

To send a message, click on the New button.

Sending a message to multiple recipients
Figure 7. Sending a message to multiple recipients

Simple SMS has full integration with the Contacts database in Pocket PC 2002. When you want to send a message, just select it from a list. Likewise, when a message is received, the sender's name will be displayed if the Contacts database contains an entry for the sender. Another nice feature of Simple SMS is that you can send messages to multiple recipients; a very useful feature when group messaging is required.

Besides receiving and sending SMS messages, Simple SMS also allows SMS messages to be exported to a text file for backup purposes. Another cool feature it that it allows you to send long messages beyond the limit set by SMS's 160 characters. But note that this feature only works if the recipient is also using Simple SMS.

One complaint is that I cannot make use of the Phone Book on my phone to send messages Though Simple SMS integrates with the Contacts on the Pocket PC, I kept most of my contacts on my phone and would like to use the Pocket PC for sending SMS messages only. If I could use the Phone book on my phone, Simple SMS would be perfect.

Chinese SMS

The Simple SMS site claims that it's able to display Unicode characters, but I was unable to display Chinese SMS messages I received on my phone. I could only see squares placeholders. With some searching, I managed to download CE-Star Suite 2.0, a shareware utility for inputting and displaying Chinese characters on Pocket PCs.

Once CE-Star Suite was installed, I was able to display Chinese SMS on Simple SMS:

Viewing a message in Chinese
Figure 8. Viewing a message in Chinese

I managed to compose Chinese messages using the Chinese input. But for some reason I wasn't able to send the message correctly.

Composing a message in Chinese
Figure 9. Composing a message in Chinese

My suspicion is that my T68 does not support Chinese input, though I can view Chinese messages perfectly, as I am not able to select Chinese input in the settings menu. I guess the steps outlined above should work on phones that support Chinese input.

Summary

While you may not have the latest SmartPhone that combines voice and data functionality, the technique discussed here is a good example of how you could put your existing investments to good use. What's more, to make yourself seem less geeky, you can hide your Pocket PC when you are out on a date.

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