New legislation has been passed in Ethiopia that could imprison an individual for up to 15 years for making a 30-second call over Skype or Google Talk. The legislation has made it illegal to use any Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services from within the country, Al Jazeera reported. Not only does the law prohibit the use of VoIP services, but it also enables the state-owned Ethio Teleco to prohibit the use of video chatting, social media, email and any other data transfer service capable of communicating information. The legislation has been labeled as necessary for the country’s national security and will reportedly close a loophole that was allowing some citizens to communicate without being monitored by authorities. More →
Google on Tuesday announced that calls placed within the United States and Canada using Google Voice will continue to be free through the end of 2012. “This is our way of helping you connect with friends and family across the country,” Group Product Manager Vincent Paquet wrote on a company blog. Google stated last year that calls made within the U.S. and Canada would be free through 2011, but the company is extending the promotion through 2012 for reasons unknown. Google Voice was born from Google’s acquisition of GrandCentral in 2007, and the later acquisition of Gizmo5 in 2009 is expected to eventually add VoIP capabilities to the service. For the time being, VoIP calling is only supported from within Gmail. More →
Google updated its Google Voice client for Android smartphones on Tuesday with support for group texting. In addition, the client now supports the ability to prefetch voicemails so that you can listen to them when you’re outside data coverage. Google also says the app should now offer better notifications, although we didn’t notice any immediate difference in our preliminary tests. The update is free and is available in the Android Market now. More →
Google may be preparing to take its mobile efforts to the next level as it tests a Google-branded MVNO in Spain. Unconfirmed reports accompanied by photos of a Google SIM card and a Nexus S running on a “Google_Es” network suggest that Google is toying with the idea of becoming a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, or a company that provides cellular service by leasing capacity from existing wireless carriers and piggybacking on their networks. The photos suggest that testing is in the late stages as Google has already printed branded SIM cards, which have reportedly been delivered to Google Spain employees for testing. Additional details are scarce for the time being, but a Google-branded MVNO with deep Google Voice integration and a portfolio of Android devices from its potential Motorola acquisition could give the tech giant unprecedented control over the user experience. There is currently no firm indication that Google is testing similar services in other markets. Additional images follow below.
UPDATE: Turns out this was a hoax pulled off by a site described by Engadget Spanish as a “Spaniard 4chan.” Full details can be found on the Engadget Spanish site. More →
Intel gathered by blog Android Central indicates that Sprint and Google will make their Google Voice partnership ready for prime time on April 26th. The venture, which was announced last month, will allow Sprint customers to seamlessly integrate their current wireless number with Google’s Voice service. Calls and texts sent from your mobile device will be logged by Google Voice’s online system, and calls can be made from the browser using the service’s VoIP feature. International calls made from linked mobile devices will automatically route through Google Voice — which offers deep discounting on international voice traffic. The feature has been available in beta for the last few weeks, but it looks like the two companies are finally ready to let everyone in on the fun. More →
Now this, is awesome. Sprint and Google have just announced that they have worked together to give practically all Sprint wireless subscribers the ability to start using Google Voice immediately without any effort. It will literally be as simple as entering your number into your Google Voice account; the system will recognize that it’s a Sprint number and ask you if you’d like to use it as your Google Voice number. The best part? Google Voice apps aren’t needed anymore, and this works with practically any phone and OS. Android, BlackBerry, feature phones — it doesn’t matter. Any calls or text messages you send from your phone will appear in your Google Voice account, and you’ll be able to place calls or send texts from your Google Voice account online as well. What’s even cooler is that when you make international calls, it will automatically use Google Voice, thus affording deep discounts compared to standard international calling.
Google is taking its sweet time adding new features to Google Voice, but it looks like some big pieces of the puzzle are finally starting to fall into place. Google finished rolling out incoming number portability to all users this past January, and now it looks as though it may soon begin tying in VoIP services. Last week, Gizmo5 users began receiving notification emails saying that the service will soon be shut down. Now, VoIP blog Disruptive Telephony has discovered that VoIP calls can be placed to a Google Voice voice number by appending “@sip.voice.google.com” to create a SIP URI. BGR tested the service earlier today and we could not get it to work, suggesting that Google may currently be rolling out the functionality quietly. This is just the first step in creating a full-fledged VoIP service for Google Voice, but it’s an important first step and one that users have been waiting for since Google acquired GrandCentral in 2007. More →
Now that Google has finally brought incoming number portability to its Google Voice service, we wanted to ask: how many of you have taken advantage of the new feature? It’s a difficult call to make and many people have reached out to us to ask us what our thoughts on it. Since you’re porting your existing number, you’ll need a new number for your actual cell phone and that’s where things can get tricky for some people. Also, many people have early termination fees to consider, so that adds another roadblock. So, what’s the verdict? How many of you taken the plunge, and if so, are you happy that your number is now able to be used on a variety of phones on practically any carrier and that you can control who calls you and where?
Palo Alto, California-based start-up SayNow announced on Tuesday that it has been acquired by Google for an undisclosed sum. SayNow’s platform facilitates voice messaging between individuals or groups, and the company provides access to its services through Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Android and iPhone applications. The start-up claims to have over 15 million people currently using SayNow apps and services, which include SayNow Phone, SayNow Broadcast, Big Call and Chit Chat. While details surrounding Google’s intentions for the platform are unclear at this time, the company’s services will ultimately be folded into Google Voice according to SayNow founders Ujjwal Singh and Nikhyl Singhal. Hit the break for SayNow’s full press announcement. More →
Last week we reported that Google had finally begun rolling out support for incoming number ports to its Google Voice service. Lack of the feature, as any Google Voice user will likely attest to, has been a sore spot for Google’s telephony product since the company first acquired GrandCentral in 2007. Today, Google has announced that the new feature is now available to all current Google Voice users. Number portability allows users to transfer their cell phone or landline telephone numbers between service providers. Google Voice has always supported outbound number porting, which allowed users to transfer their Google Voice number to another carrier, but incoming ports had been off limits until recently. Google charges a one-time $20 fee to port a number into Google Voice, and the process takes approximately 24 hours. Hit the break for a video explaining the process. More →
If you’re a Google Voice user and you’re not TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington (who was able to port his number into the service a long time ago), odds are pretty good you’ve prayed for incoming number portability at some point. And for years, your prayers have gone unanswered. Well, no more — Google has officially implemented incoming number portability as of Wednesday evening, and it is in the process of being rolled out to all users. Rejoice! To port your number into your Google Voice account, simply click on Settings in the top right corner, and then Voice settings. Now, on the phone tab next to your Google Voice number, click on Change / Port. Now click on “I want to use my existing mobile number instead” and follow the on-screen instructions to port your number. There you go — you now have 867-5309 as your phone number and $20 less in your pocket.
In a blog post today, Google announced an update to the iOS version of its official Voice application that supports the iPad and iPod touch. The two most notable feature additions, as defined by Google, are: the ability to use the application on both the iPad and iPod touch to send and receive free text messages and a new feature dubbed Click2Call. As Google explains:
While you can’t use your iPod or iPad as a phone, you can use it to initiate Google Voice calls with your phones. We call this feature Click2Call. Simply click any ‘Call’ button in the Google Voice app on your iPod or iPad and then select which of your phones you want to ring. Google Voice will call your phone and then connect your call.
Other improvements include:
- When you enable Push Notifications, we will automatically disable Text forwarding for you, so you won’t receive multiple notifications.
- Want some quiet time? You can send all callers straight to voicemail by turning on Do not disturb in the Settings tab.
- We made it easier for you to place calls from the address book by adding a dedicated Contacts button to the Dialer tab.
- Sending text messages is now more streamlined since you don’t need to press the OK button anymore.
The new application is available for download — in the U.S. only — via the App Store. Enjoy. More →