Google rarely sends new features out into the wild before they are ready for prime time, despite the fact that it stamps just about everything with “beta”, but SMS via chat was something that apparently had one too many hiccups out of the gate. Google first announced SMS integration back in October but ran into a few snags early on and had to pull the service rather quickly. SMS is back however, and Google claims it’s better than ever. The service can be activated from within the Labs tab – it’s the item is near the bottom of the Labs list labeled “Text Messaging (SMS) in Chat”. By enabling the feature and ensuring you have mobile numbers listed with your chat contacts, you’ll be able to send text messages to your chat contacts right from within the integrated chat box in the Gmail UI. The service is completely free for Gmail users but there may be costs involved for your recipients so don’t go bombarding them with SMS unless you know they have unlimited plans.

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Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than a decade, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.