Saturday, July 11, 2009

Google Voice... and why it could be an awesome program

Preface: I havn't posted in a really long time. I think I'll post a bit more now that life has settled down over the past year. For one, I know where I'll be going to school: Connecticut College class of '13!

Last night I [finally] got my Google Voice invitation email. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Google Voice is a new application by Google (created from their acquisition of an online program called GrandCentral) which gives you a new, free phone number. This is a central number that, basically, you can program to ring on your multiple lines-- your cell, your home, your work. If you want to always be in contact with your, let's say, parent's give them the new number and--with one call--it will ring wherever you may be. No need to have voice messages that say "OK well I'll try calling you on your cell" anymore.

It can also be used to adjust where certain people call. If you want your boss to have only cirtain access to you, it can be set so he or she will ring only on your work and cell lines.

I tested out Google Voice briefly. When a someone calls your Google Voice number, your various lines will ring. (The first time a given caller calls, they are asked to give their name.) When your lines ring, it will say "[name] is trying to call you. Press 1 to accept the call, press 2 to send to voicemail, or press 3 to listen in on a voice mail being left."

Google voice has a remarkable, free transcription feature. With the new, central phone line comes a central voice mailbox. Within about 60-90 seconds (from my own tests) after a voice message is left, Google will have completed a surprisingly good voice-to-text transcription. The message can be played as audio, or simply read.

This is all well and good, and Google Voice could be great for some people.

But not for me, at the moment.

I'm a student and I've only got one line that I control: my cell phone. To make use of my Google Voice line, I would have to alert everyone that I have a new number, but continue to use my cell phone to access incoming calls from the Google Voice line. To make outgoing calls, I could continue to use my cell phone number, but it would come up on other people's caller ID as me, and if they were to call back, they would call to my cell number, not my Google Voice number.

If I wanted to call through my Google Voice number there are two options.
First, if I were on my computer, I could go to the Google Voice website and type in/chose the contact I wish to call, then tell it which line to connect to. For example, I could chose a contact named Mom and pick up the call from my cell phone (meaning it will ring there and that's actually where I will conduct the call from.)

If I'm not at a computer, it's a painful process. First I have to dial my number on my phone, then I am told I have no new messages. I'm then prompted to put in my pin, then I have to dial the number I want to call. I don't even know how it would work if I had contacts yet, but I surely don't remember everyone's number.

Basically, Google Voice seems like a good application for someone in the professional world. The only reason I really would want to use it at this point in my life is for the transcribed voice mails. But chainging my number to everyone I know and changing my dialing out procedures are not worth the transcribed voice mails.

If Google Voice could be improved, here's how I imagine it: Instead of picking a new number upon sign up, Google should let you use an existing number. Then I could use my cell phone number. When people call me, it will ring on my phone and give me those same options of answering (which I like) or transcribe the message if I chose.

I had the good fortune of picking a Google Voice number quite similar to my cell phone number (which I really like). My cell is XXX-500-7XXX and I found a Google Voice number that shared to 500 part too, XXX-500-8XXX.

Nevertheless, I won't be using Google Voice for the time being.


I do hope to continue to post more regularly.

No comments: