Wave wasn’t the only Google service to be opened up to the public this week, as Google has now lifted its invite only restriction on its popular Google Voice service. It’s still only available to residents of the United States, but now the only thing standing between you and: free calls, free SMS messages (to anywhere in the U.S. and Canada), voice mail transcripts, and having one number for all of your phones is logging into voice.google.com with your Google account and picking out a number. More →
It’s a scientific fact that Google Voice is all of that and a bag of potato chips, but now it’s gotten even better thanks in part to Google’s willingness to tick off every carrier in the nation. In the past, users who wished to take advantage of the features of Google Voice would have to use the number provided to them by Google, but now users are free to integrate some Google Voice features into their carrier-issued number. These features include:
- Online, searchable voicemail
- Free automated voicemail transcription
- Custom voicemail greetings for different callers
- Email and SMS notifications
- Low-priced international calling
What’s particularly neat about this new option is that your messages follow you no matter what, meaning that even if you switch carriers to get the hot new device, Google Voice features will come with you.
What better way to celebrate Labor Day weekend than to help all of our Canadian brothers and sisters pull a fast one over on Google? We here at BGR know that a lot of Canadians are worried about the upcoming non-confidence vote that could topple the current government in the midst of an economic crisis, so we thought we’d take advantage of a rather slow Sunday to give you something to smile about: a way to get Google Voice to work in Canada. It does require you to snag a MagicJack, but that’s literally all you need to make this happen. Some of you might be a bit nervous about buying and using a MagicJack up in Canada, but we’ve been using it for a few months now up in our super-secret Canadian satellite office and have not had a single issue. And no, this Google Voice trick doesn’t require you to have the physical MagicJack plugged into your computer at all times. In fact, once you get your MagicJack set up and activate call forwarding, you can throw the little bugger in the trash if you want. Hit the jump to learn how to get your Google Voice on north of the border.
It looks like the FCC’s bravado move to lay some smack down on both Apple and AT&T has pretty much unearthed a whole heap of nothing. AT&T and Apple have just released their responses to those now infamous letters the FCC sent to Apple, AT&T and Google over the whole Google Voice debacle. AT&T’s position is best summed when it said that it had “no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application”, while Apple’s response is pretty damn classic. You see, Apple is claiming that this is all just a misunderstanding and that it didn’t reject the official Google Voice app, it’s just taking its sweet ass time reviewing it in full. Why? Because it’s has two major concerns:
1. “[Google Voice] appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail.”
2. The iPhone user’s entire Contacts database is transferred to Google’s servers, and we have yet to obtain any assurances from Google that this data will only be used in appropriate ways. These factors present several new issues and questions to us that we are still pondering at this time.”
Anyone abreast on anything Apple-related knows there’s a multitude of applications available for download or purchase that duplicate many different parts of the iPhone interface so we’ll leave the comments to you, as always.
Google Voice users with friends and relatives living north or the border, rejoice. Not that calls to Canada are overly expensive in the first place, but the Google Voice team has decided to eat that marginal expense — just as they did when they were GrandCentral — and make calling to Canada free once again. That’s right Google Voice users, the next time you need to call and taunt your Canadian friends when your team is playing the Blue Jays it won’t cost you a dime. Now if only you could initiate those calls from a nifty little app on your iPhone without having to jailbreak…
Google’s mobile site for Google Voice is a nice gateway solution while Google’s team works on a more integrated mobile offering, but it leaves plenty to be desired. Having to click or poke your way through your browser each time you want to make a call can be a pain to say the least. As such, it was only a matter of time before a third-party developer answered the call, so to speak, and worked out a better way to use Google’s service on mobile phones. We’re sure you see where we’re going with this by now… Mobile Max recently introduced a beta version of its app, GVdialer, on a wide range of platforms and we have to say, we’re already addicted.
Shown above on a BlackBerry Bold, the app allows you to route calls seamlessly via Google Voice without the need to do anything differently when making calls. Dial a number or access a contact, press send and viola. The top image above shows the UI, simple as it is, where you can set the app to handle outgoing calls one of five different ways:
Google Voice is a service that has tremendous potential and as such, we’ll be watching it closely over the months to come. Last week, we showed you the service’s current mobile capabilities and posed a few ideas in terms of where Google could potentially take Google Voice. Interpret this however you wish, but further details were discovered this week that could certainly support some big plans:
We’re excited to count you among our users, and we want to continue to earn your business every day. We don’t lock you into minimum commitment contracts, charge you activation fees, or make it impossible for you to leave. If you want to move to another service provider and take your Google number with you, you can do so at any time.
- Your ability to transfer your Google number to another service provider usually depends on the providers, and whether they’ll support your number.
- If your provider supports porting over your Google number, please contact your provider’s customer service department for instructions.
Yep, Google Voice supports number porting. For the time being, only exiting users are able to port their numbers away from the service but a support page suggests Google is currently working on setting up incoming porting as well. As the service stands now, porting an existing number over to Google Voice doesn’t seem to make much sense — all the more reason to believe Google has some pretty grand ideas moving forward. If you’re a current account holder, definitely take a look through the support pages as Google seems very open about receiving feedback and molding at least some aspects of the service after the needs and wants of its users.
In all of the hubbub surrounding Google’s recent revival and transformation of GrandCentral, one of the greatest aspects of the service was lost in the fray by most — mobile access to google.com/voice. Along with a new web-based UI and a handful of awesome new features such as free SMS and voicemail transcriptions, Google introduced new mobile sites that provide on-device access to all of Google Voice’s core functions. Users now have access to inboxes (voicemail transcriptions and SMS, each with threaded view), contacts, settings and plenty more from just about any mobile phone with a browser. What’s more, calls can be initiated with one click using the “Quick Call” feature and users can even send SMS messages quickly and easily right from the homepage. Above, a couple of grabs from the iPhone-optimized mobile site show the layout and how accessible all of the features are. Below, you can see that other devices have access to an equally-useful mobile site:
It has taken what seemed like an eternity for those who weren’t quick enough to snag an account while the service was open, but Google has finally shown the world what it plans to do with GrandCentral — and it’s looking pretty awesome. GrandCentral users have been sitting in limbo for almost two years now, waiting for Google to either announce its plans for the service it acquired in July 2007 or shut it down as has been the case with several other acquisitions. Thankfully, the former is the case. Google let the cat out of the bag last night and announced Google Voice, which is currently a closed service being rolled out to GrandCentral users.
In a nutshell, Google Voice is Gmail for your voice communications. As with GrandCentral, you get one number that you can set up to forward to any and all of your existing numbers — mobile, home phone, office phone, etc. Incoming calls ring to all attached lines and if you don’t answer, any voicemail left will be stored in a visual queue and can be accessed from any computer or mobile phone. Google Voice picks up where GrandCentral left off and adds some big functionality such as voicemail transcription, SMS, free conference calling and plenty more. We’ll be watching this one closely as it’s a huge and necessary step as Google moves further and further toward world domination. Can you say, Android integration? Current GrandCentral users will be rolled over into Google Voice over the next couple of days but unfortunately there is no word on exactly when the service might open up to new users.
After what seemed like an eternity of silence, Google has finally released something new associated with GrandCentral. No, you still can’t get in on the action if you don’t already have an account and no, this is hardly huge news. It is however, hopefully a sign of things to come as Google further enhances the GrandCentral offering and maybe, just maybe, opens it up for public consumption once again. So, on to the news. Vocito, a word meaning “call” in Latin, is a small application for Mac that was released yesterday via the Google Code pages. Pronounced Voe-Kee-Toe, the app is essentially a dialer allowing users to initiate GrandCentral calls from their computers. The user enters a from number and chooses (or inputs) a destination, then Vocito initiates the call in both directions via GrandCentral. It integrates with Address Book, QuickSilver and Automator as well, which is nice. Is it useful? Maybe. Is it neat? Possibly. At the very least, it’s something new for GrandCentral and a sign that Google has not completely forgotten about the service. Vocito is free to use and can be downloaded via the read link.
[Via Google Mac Blog]