Android SMS Forwarding in a Foreign Land

Google's Project FiUnfortunately, the Spreadsheet Tasker Plugin used in this post is no longer maintained and no longer works. I leave this post here in case anyone comes across an alternative that they are able to share.

I really like my Project Fi (from Google) cellular service. It works in nearly every country I travel to and I don’t need to buy a new SIM card every time I go back to the homeland in the summer. But Project Fi is limited to US phone numbers. Sadly, doing anything online in the Republic of Korea requires a local mobile phone number. I tried getting a Korean Skype-In number, but alas, it is unable to receive SMS messages and begins with a 070 prefix, not the 010 (used for mobile phones) that’s required by my bank.

SK Telecom LogoI finally resolved to purchase a local prepaid SIM card to pop into an old cell phone just to receive SMS messages. A nice young gal at the SK Telecom shop in Gangnam graciously accepted my lacking proficiency in Korean and set me up with a SIM card. For just ₩50,000 I will be able to receive SMS messages for the next 12 months. However, I don’t want to tote around another phone, obliged to keep it charged for those infrequent occasions it will be needed. So, I resolved to leave the phone on and permanently plugged in at home, only to forward received sms messages to another device.

After some hours of work, I finally settled on using a Tasker event to post incoming SMS messages to a Google Spreadsheet with the Spreadsheet Tasker Plugin and have the updated spreadsheet trigger an email to myaddress@kis.or.kr – just in case something came through that I wasn’t expecting.

How to do it.

  1. First, install Tasker and the Spreadsheet Tasker Plugin and create a blank spreadsheet called “SMS Messages” in your Google Drive.
  2. On your Android phone receiving SMS messages, open Tasker and click the + icon in the bottom-right to create a new profile.
  3. Select Event > Phone > Received Text
  4. Click the Back button (←) and select New Task.
  5. Give it a reasonable name like “Update SMS Spreadsheet” and click the check (✓) icon in the bottom-right.
  6. Click the plus (+) sign to add an action.
  7. Select Plugin > Spreadsheet Tasker Plugin > Spreadsheet Update
  8. Click the Configuration (pencil) icon in the upper-right corner.
  9. Click Spreadsheet and navigate to the SMS Messages sheet you created in step 1 and click “Select”.
  10. Click the “Cells” line and enter the following:
    %SMSRF;%SMSRN;%SMSRB;%MMSRD;%SMSRT
    This adds the sender’s number, name, message text, MMS content (if any) and the time it was received in an hours.minutes format such that 20.35 means 8:35Pm.
  11. Here you can scroll down and click “Save” and then “Test”. You can check your spreadsheet and should see a new line appended to it. At the moment, it prolly has the variables that you entered above. But if you send yourself an SMS, you should start seeing the message data appear in the sheet within 10-20 seconds. At this point, if you know you’re going to receive an SMS, you can just open that spreadsheet and see it as it’s received. If it doesn’t, double check the steps above and let me know if you need help.
  12. If you want to receive an email notification whenever the sheet receives an SMS message, just set up the notification rules in the spreadsheet (Tools > Notification rules > Add notification rule > Any changes are made and > Email – right away) .
  13. BONUS: I also just set it up to notify me if I miss a call to that number. I created another spreadsheet (though I prolly coulda used the same) and selected Missed Call instead of Received Text and modified the variables to:
    %CNAME;%CNUM;%CDATW;%CTIME

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