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Achieving full mobility with Google voice: reach me wherever I am!

googlevoice-logoEverytime 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) .

map-europe1

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)

google-voice-thanku

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Want to know more about Google Voice? click here

13 Comments

Got something to say? Feel free, I want to hear from you! Leave a Comment

  1. kerolic says:

    Can’t wait to test the product. I’m afraid it might take some time to come to europe …

  2. Christian says:

    I so hope GV will eradicate Skype.

    On the one hand, you have to admire Skype – they took an run-of-the-mill product (VoIP) and created a communications network with the only Skype-owned infrastructure being the authentication hosts. Once you realize what Skype actually does and how, you feel cheated – SkypeOut is waaay more expensive than any other VoIP product, it’s incompatible with SIP (which is the dominant VoIP protocol), and its entire communications infrastructure is built on the idea of misappropriating user’s resources.

    GV has none of these issues (AFAIKT), and a lot of new features. I’m with kerolic, I just wish they’d initially launch such products in Europe too :-/

  3. punctilious post. simply one detail where I quarrel with it. I am emailing you in detail.

  4. Nicolas Martin says:

    @ Christian and Kerolic: Thanks guys for your respective inputs! This is how we’re making things move in our little world :)

    Being a heavy VoIP user myself, I think we’d agree to say that Skype and GV might turn to be complementary solutions with time, as at the end customers may find it practical to easily switch from one solution to the other for their very own advantages (GV: possibility to route all their phones through – home, office and mobile, get voicemail transcript and give users a single voicemail account regardless of which phone messages are left on. / Skype: Lower calling costs vs GV, possibility to use it through a mobile device with Nimbuzz, vidéo on IP).

    I still see today a lot of people in the street carying a cellphone, an MP3 player, a digital camera, a notebook, an even a small pad to take down notes. I find it weird when I know that we today have all the above technology built in within a single device, call it iPhone, Nokia N serie or other. So I dont think this would be a problem for “Mr Jones” to use Skype and GV to cover complementary features on the same device.

    With regards to calling costs we now know that domestic calls will be free with GV but international calls will require users to set up a Google Checkout account. EBay’s Skype offers free domestic and international calls made over the internet from one computer to another and customers can call landlines and cell phones around the world for a very low cost. International calls can eventually be completely free if some customers are phone addicts and decide to subscribe to either a domestic, Europe or World contract (cost ranges from $2.95 a month to $9.95 a month for unlimited calls worldwide). But at the end, Skype is still cheaper than Google Voice (see cost table for Google Voice vs Skype’s). Too bad though that Skype isn’t yet compatible with SIP like Gizmo or Vike are. There is indeed something to cover in that field…

    But if Google perfects its speech-to-text feature to other languages, this solution could be very powerful given the globalisation of markets. Language is another barrier and when you break that down, the world of communications opens up and globally this has exciting opportunities.

    But unfortunately as usual, whenever Google announces a new product, the behemoth typically builds excitement by only letting a select group of people trickle in. Let’s just hope as you say, that Europe won’t be left behind for too long! :P

  5. Christian says:

    Hm, from the links you provided, it appears to me that GV is cheaper? I just did a quick comparison for US, AT, FR, DE and UK, and except for France – Mobile, GV always won… (though admittedly not by much).

    In my case, I use SIP via SipDroid on my HTC Magic. If you download the version from sipdroid.org, you can use SIP calling via Wi-Fi and EDGE (the Market version only supports Wi-Fi). When I call my GF in Miami, I pay 1.5c/min, compared to Skype’s 0.24c/min. And all from my phone! I simply love it.

  6. Nicolas Martin says:

    @ Christian: Wow, SipDroid’s interface looks really cool and tasty! Unfortunately my cellphone runs in a Symbian OS :( No chance for me to test it… But if you’d like to write a review of this software, I’d be more than happy to put it on this blog! How do you feel with that?

  7. Christian says:

    I’d be more than happy to do that!

    I think including a short comparison of other VoIP software for Smartphones (Android, iPhone, Nokia) would be helpful, especially comparing it to Skype Mobile. What do you think?

    Re: Symbian: Ever since I’ve seen the iPhone and since I’ve bought an Android phone, I have had a feeling that proprietary platforms like Blackberry or Symbian are going to die a slow death. Android/iPhone are full-blown computers, and there is so much development going on (iPhone has 50K+ Apps, Android around 10K). Hell, on a rooted Android, you can install almost all of Debian’s 29K packages, just as if were a regular PC!

    I think Nokia has realized this, because they are doing some GREAT stuff with Maemo, their own Linux-based platform for handhelds (maemo.org). Just look at this baby: http://www.mobile-review.com/review/nokia-rx51-n900-en.shtml

  8. Nicolas Martin says:

    @ Christian: WOW! This Nokia N900 has such a beautiful interface!!! It seems that Nokia is really starting a new transition that will please Nokia lovers who have maybe felt frustrated for the past two years with the S60 OS while some devices were running cool OS like Androïd and Apple’s. Maybe they’ll soon hold their “revenge” with a device operating with a VERY NICE Maemo OS. That’s true that I did not quite understand why Nokia waited so long to mix the best of it Maemo’s N800 and N810 with its S60 devices…But well, it seems that Nokia is just on the right path with its N900! It just rocks!

  9. SpysMemorik says:

    Хорошее дело!

  10. Nicolas Martin says:

    @ SpysMemorik: Спасибо:)

  11. Polprav says:

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

  12. Nicolas Martin says:

    @ Polprav: thanks for your comment, and please feel free to quote the post(s) you need! Hope you enjoyed the content of 52ndwest :)

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