Chris Kranky

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Google Voice, anyone?

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

Google launched their 'Google Voice' offering which is
basically a re-launch of the assets they acquired for $50m from GrandCentral.
The happy techno blogs and geek websites have had plenty of glowing reviews.
I've been playing with it myself for the last few weeks.

While I have great fun, I can't
quite figure out why anyone would use Google Voice. Just what exactly is the application
I’m supposed to use this for. If you've followed my blog, I'm keen on things
that help me and I'm mercy less with technology solely for the sake of
technology. Please give me something that helps make my life easier.

Google has a long history of putting interesting knobs and bobs
on the shelf and just hoping people figure out what to do with it.  Not sure you could start a business in today’s
economy with a view like that. Nonetheless, it's apparent to me that some executive
at Google sees Skype with $600m in revenue and wonders "why aren't we
doing that?" and add in "didn't we buy GrandCentral, what for

I’m not quite sure why I need yet another telephone number
in my life and also not sure why I would want to front-end any real telephone
device with a number that screens my calls. I screen my calls just fine using
caller line ID. When I call someone, I expect to reach them, not some machine. If
I don’t want you reaching me, well I won’t give you my telephone number. Life
isn’t that complicated.

I have, though, found an application worthy of usage on Google
Voice. It’s ability to transcribe voicemail messages. I hate listening to voicemail and while Google Voice isn't 100% accurate, it's good enough. I’ve set up my mobile
phone to forward busy, unanswered or network unavailable calls to my Google
Voice line (something that's easily done from your mobile handset on most GSM networks, real men use GSM). When I get a voicemail, Google Voice transcribes the first part of the voicemail and sends it to me as an SMS message. Usually it's good enough, I don't have to bother listening to the voicemail itself (saving me time).

This voicemail to SMS service is also offered on a "paid" basis by Spinvox via
a number of wireless operators. While Spinvox is more accurate (since they may
listen to your actual voicemail), Google Voice is accurate enough and it’s