I’ve been a long time user of GrandCentral. I was lucky enough to get an invite to the service a couple of years ago and have used it to manage my incoming calls, make sure they get to me and managing voicemail online.
Google took over GrandCentral and for a long, long time did nothing with it (possibly less than nothing). Recently there were rumblings of changes with GrandCentral and Google finally making use of the wonderful virtual phone system.
Well, on Friday Google was nice enough to upgrade my GrandCentral account to Google Voice. (only available in the US right now).
Here’s what Google says about Google Voice:
Google Voice gives you one number for all your phones — a phone number that is tied to you, not to a device or a location. Use Google Voice to simplify the way you use phones, make using voicemail as easy as email, customize your callers’ experience, and more.
Google Voice isn’t a phone service, but it lets you manage all of your phones. Google Voice works with mobile phones, desk phones, work phones, and VoIP lines. There’s nothing to download, upload, or install, and you don’t have to make or take calls using a computer.
Google Voice will let you define which phones ring, based on who’s calling, and even let you ListenInTM on voicemail before answering the call. We use smart technology to route your calls. So, if you’re already on a Google Voice call, we’ll recognize it and use call waiting to reach you on the phone you’re on.
I have the benefit of being able to compare between the original GrandCentral system and the new Google Voice system. Here’s what I think.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge Google fan. I love that Google Voice is tied into your Gmail address book and contact groups Of course it’s great that they’re keeping with the standard Google Layout (see screenshot above).
I can see that through the transition, some of the little bells and whistles have been lost. Maybe they’ll come back in time.
I’d always get a laugh whenever anyone would call in on my GrandCentral line because of the ringer I had set up. Google Voice doesn’t have any custom ringers.
Google has kept the settings very simple. pretty much everything you can change is on one tab on one screen (the others are just gravy)
You can set up different voicemail greetings to greet different caller groups.
There’s the ability to channel different people from your Google Address book through to certain phones, or straight to Voicemail.
Google has added a couple of nice features into the new system.
You have the ability to call from your Google Voice. I don’t know how practical this is but it’s really quite cool.
You can type the number you wish to call in the box and select which phone you’re going to call from. When you hit ‘connect’ your phone will ring and start ringing the number you typed in. Why not just tap the number into your phone?
You can SMS straight from Google Voice.
You can receive SMS messages in your Google Voice Inbox too which is great!
There is an international calling feature too. With pretty low rates you can call many countries around the world.
I noticed that when I called into my Google Voice Inbox today (just dialed my number from one of my registered phones) it gave me the option of making a phone call from my Google Voice. In theory, assuming I have the credit in my account to pay the 2cents per minute, I can call into my Google Voice from my cell phone and call my father in the UK from Google Voice without incurring any additional charges on my cell phone.
This is a nice idea in theory. I’ll have to give it a try sometime.
I’d like to see more integration into Gmail for example. It would be great if I could centralize my communications that much.
My screenshots are pretty self explanatory. The system looks pretty good and from what I’ve seen, it works.
I can’t wait to see what else Google rolls into it.
Author: Andy Quayle
Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
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