As part of an ongoing series, I’m going to review some of my favorite apps that have been on my phone for a long time (I have hundreds clogging the memory of my phone….some are wonderful, some are one hit wonders). The app du jour, Google Voice.
I’ve been a bit obsessed with Google Voice from the beginning. Originally developed as the service “Grand Central” and later acquired by Google; the founders have always had a vision of connecting multiple devices to a single number. The initial intent was that users could sign up for a phone number and have it intelligently route phone calls to the appropriate location (home, office, mobile, etc…) based on conditions like time of day, day of week, incoming contact, and more. “The last phone number you’ll ever need.”
While this was interesting, I’ve found that Google Voice is far more valuable as a utility to extend my one phone number to other devices in my life. With Google Voice enabled, I can send/receive phone calls, text messages and voice mail from anything with an internet connection (mobile phone, laptop and tablet)*. In addition, Google Voice enables some pretty snazzy features like call recording, customized voicemails, and the ability to search all of that content in the cloud.
*With some special behind the scenes “magic” in the Sprint network and the servers in Mountain View….you can use your current phone number! No need to distribute a new phone number to your friends, just use your Sprint number like you always have.
To be perfectly honest, the mobile application that enables all of this functionality has been a bit of a roller coaster ride…. Over time it’s definitely become much more reliable and something I have come to use as my daily driver for texting but still could use some modern usability enhancements (i.e. better message threading). In addition, the Android application is FAR superior to the iOS application due to the locked down nature of Apple’s OS….so iPhoner’s beware.
Google Voice is doing for carrier grade voice/messaging what IMAP did for email. It would be ridiculous to think that your personal laptop is the only place you can send/receive email…. Google Voice proves that your phone number doesn’t have to be locked to your phone.
So Google Voice: MUST HAVE or SAVE SOME SPACE?
This is the first app I download on every new phone and tablet I get…I can honestly say I probably send more text messages from my laptop each day because the Google Voice window is always open through a slick extension in my browser. If you’re a Sprint user and would like to get a little more control over your communications…go get this now!