Before you say, "So What?" we are well aware that you could send an SMS from email by using an address of the form firstname.lastname@example.org (we're also aware AIM supported this). But when you did that, you only got a temporary ID that your friend could text you back on for a limited time. This new feature will give you a permanent "number" they can use all the time for SMS, which goes directly to your Gmail Chat.
So, how does it work? Well, first of all it's a Google Labs feature. Unlike Mail Goggles
, we like this one. Go into your Gmail Settings, then Labs, and enable the functionality (most will not see this feature yet, at the time of this writing). Go into chat, type in a phone number, and you'll see an SMS option. Once you send an SMS message, you will have a 406 area code number permanently associated with your Gmail account.
Your friends can then text you back and initiate SMS chats
at that number --- forever.
Beautiful, we say, because the more Google adds to Gmail, the more it becomes an all-in-one centralized location for all Internet communications. Oh, wait! Maybe that's what they intend? Heh.