March 12, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka
Google is determined to control every aspect of communication. It’s not enough to be a leading force in email, web search, and news — Google wants complete domination of telecommunications, too!
GrandCentral, an innovative communication service Google acquired in 2007, has been rebranded “Google Voice.” With a few last minute hurdles cleared, the company has promised that GrandCentral/Voice’s incredible features will soon allow the general public to:
- Use one phone number for all phones or route calls based on groups/contacts
- Have one central voicemail box
- Listen to voicemail messages or transcripts of messages online
- Read and search all SMS text messages sent/received
- Make international phone calls (paid VoIP service)
- Automatically block calls from numbers marked as spam
- Record audio clips of phone conversations
- Customize voicemail greetings based on group contacts
- Many more features that would overload this message if I tried to document them all
Google Voice enhances Android
Android fans, and anyone else who uses a phone for that matter, has every reason to be excited about this announcement. Aside from introducing revolutionary services, Google Voice has the potential to make Android an even stronger platform.
Google has made mobile solutions and enhancements a company priority, and Google Voice is already shaping up to be one if its most powerful enhancements. The T-Mobile G1 and HTC Magic will be able to take advantage of several useful features. Imagine being able to sneak a peek at your cell phone during moments that checking your voicemail would be inappropriate. While in a meeting or watching a movie, you notice a missed call from your wife and cannot return it just yet. Then you notice a transcript from that Voicemail that reads, “Honey, I just went into labor. Where are you?”
Google Voice will alert you to important information sooner than you normally would obtain it.
Carriers can no longer hold your number hostage
Until a few years ago, cell phone carriers technically owned the number associated with a subscriber’s phone. Customers were free to switch to another company when their contract expired, but they’d have to forfeit their number in the process. Federal guidelines have since given cell phone subscribers the right to port their number to new carriers, if they are willing to pay a fee.
Google Voice can potentially eliminate that problem because an account provides one constant number that can be answered on a cellular or home phone. No matter how many times you go from T-Mobile to Sprint or AT&T to Verizon, the Google Voice number stays the same. You can give contacts that one number that will remain with you for years to come.
To some people, that might not mean much. For others, it means skipping the long process of updating contacts about your new number, not missing calls from people who forget/didn’t know about a number change, and even saving money by not having to reprint business cards or signs. Google Voice will eliminate one of the most inconvenient aspects of switching cell phone companies.
Google Voice will be an app superpower/storage space
As much as you may enjoy certain apps, you probably face the grim task of deleting some of them because the T-Mobile G1 has an insufficient amount of storage space to house them all. Google Voice will probably pack enough features to render certain apps obsolete and free up more space on your phone. Apps that provide VoIP service, visual voicemail, SMS management, and other functions may not be necessary when Google Voice can provide the same functions and backup the data online. SMS messages, call history, voicemails – things commonly deleted by mobile phone users – will be available to browse online.
Aside from the storage/features angle, Google Voice gives users almost complete control of their telecommunication experience. The service makes landlines and cell phones work together to provide more options for connecting with – or shutting out – the rest of the world. Google Voice has the potential to make Android an even more innovative communication device.