Everytime I am traveling abroad, I have to let my family and friends know that they shall not call me on my cellphone until I am back at a specific date. And since I’m travelling more than often, I got tired of changing my voice mail every week.
And if until today I wouldn’t have had my SkypeIn number, my life would have litteraly been a nightmare. An online number (SkypeIn) is perfect if you have friends, family or business colleagues who don’t use Skype. Anyone can dial your online number (for instance +33 970 44 00 00) from any phone or mobile and your Skype rings and you pick up the call, wherever you are in the world!
For the past three years I’ve been intensively using Skype as I was regularly telecommuting from different places in Europe (I subscribed to an “Unlimited Europe” contract for 6€/month which gives me the possibility to give unlimited calls to landlines in over 20 European countries). I eventually made a transfer of my cellphone line to my SkypeIn account so I could get calls from France without fearing to blow-up my mobile phone’s monthly credit.
However, the only issue I noticed is that I always needed to stay online to continue to get my calls from my contacts. And transfering my SkypeIn calls to my foreign mobile phone would have resulted not to be so efficient in terms of expenses and quality of calls (risk of latency and decreased quality of the calls routed through my regular mobile phone line transfered to my SkypeIn account when using my other mobiles – see figure below) .
But a complementary alternative may appear soon on the market with Google voice.
Essentially, Google Voice provides users with a universal phone number to cover all their phone communications — work, home, mobile — but more important are Google Voice’s bells and whistles, which include a transcription service for voicemails, the searchable cataloging of text messages and lots of different routing options.
Channel Web is very much optimistic about Google Voice’s chances, and makes the case in five points. I’ve paraphrased them here:
- Routing: Google Voice allows users customize how their calls are routed. The Google Voice number acts as a primary number, and calls (from individuals or groups) to that number can be routed to cellphones, landlines and voice mailboxes.
- Screening: With Google Voice a user has four options on what to do with an incoming call – answer, send to voicemail, send to voicemail while listening to the message being left, or answer and record the conversation about to happen. While these options, along with the caller’s name, is presented to the user, the caller hears ringing.
- Transcribed voicemail: Google Voice can transcribe voicemails and send them to the user via email or text messaging. The transcription service is not free. The audio files of voicemail are also saved and accesible online.
- Switching between calls: WIth Google Voice, the star key is all you need to switch between calls. Hitting the star key will not interrupt the current call, but will cause other connected phones to ring. The user can decide what to do with the current and incoming calls while talking.
Google Voice’s features sound quite tasty. However, whatever good Google Voice turns out to be, I’m still skeptical that it will knock Skype out. Let’s wait to see how long the service will stay free before some “Premium User”‘s offers with critical features are made available and what will the quality of calls be when millions of users will be calling at once.
I’ll post a product review of Google Voice as soon as the service is made available to regular users (non GrandCentral’s customers)
Want to know more about Google Voice? click here