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Mobile sites show us where Google Voice might be going

Zach Epstein
March 24th, 2009 at 12:11 PM

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 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:

These shots were pulled from a BlackBerry Bold and you can see that while the home screen isn’t quite as flashy, it’s just as usable. The shot beneath the homepage shows a contact view where calls and/or SMS can be initiated in a matter of seconds. For those who haven’t yet tried Google Voice’s SMS functionality by the way, it’s great. SMS can be sent from within the UI and replies are delivered to both the Google Voice site and your mobile number. SMS in the UI display as a threaded conversation as you can see, and SMS to your phone come from a Google number. The message body is prefaced with the sender’s name (if present in your contacts) or mobile number and any replies you send are also recorded in the conversation within Google Voice.

So with all this great functionality available on your mobile, we have to wonder where Google plans to take things. The next logical step is apps, of course. As with other major services such as Maps and Gmail, we presume Google Voice will slowly trickle out to all the big platforms; iPhone, BlackBerry, S60, Android, etc. Imagine Google Voice functionality in an always-on app that integrates with your contact list; basically a very enhanced version of TalkPlus, but free. This is the likely direction of the service, but let’s take things a step further. What if Google offered a device, or line of devices, tied to an MVNO-like service? An Android-based handset with a low monthly service fee, free national calling, cheap international calling, free messaging, free transcribed voicemail, free email (Gmail), free mapping and directions/navigation (Maps), free 411 (Google 411), etc etc. Everything Google offers rolled up into one killer device. Simply purchase the handset, log in with your Google account and bang, you’re off to the races.

Perhaps Google has no plans to offer such a device and instead it will continue to push its services onto various platforms in an effort to make every phone, Android or not, a Gphone. What do you think — would a true Google phone be the ultimate coup or are we dreaming?

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, 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 in the US and around the world. 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.

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