The other app that I absolutely fell in love with while I was in Hawaii was Google Voice for Android. Google Voice is the re-brand of Grand Central which Google purchased a while ago. What I love about it is that it is such a pragmatic and usable implementation of VOIP and mobile. Google Voice comes with all of the basic VOIP features such as call forwarding, dedicated phone number, cheap long distance and voice mail that can be forwarded to your email. It also comes with other premium features such as the ability to send SMS and transcribing voice mail to text. All for the whopping price of free.
What makes Google Voice, however is how it’s implemented. Google Voice gives you the option to override your current phone number. For instance, I have a Boston area code as my Google Voice number. When I was in Hawaii, my Google Voice number would be forwarded to the Hawaii number. When I call out from my phone, it shows my Boston number. The reason why this is great is because I typically get a new SIM card on most of my trips to the US. This allows me to provide my parents with one constant number where they can consistently reach me at. Since most pre-paid plans don’t cover long distance, routing my calls to Canada through Google Voice allows me to save quite a bit of money. When I’m back in Toronto, Google Voice is forwarded to my Skype number which is then forwarded to my Toronto number. I like this setup as I’m constantly on Skype and it allows me to intercept a call on my notebook if I’m at my desk. Similarly with SMS, I love how I can send and receive US SMS messages for free.
Given that it is a Google service, you can also execute most of these features from the web. For instance, I could call my brother from the web and it’ll connect the call from my brother to a phone number that I’ve preset on Google Voice. This is one of the ways I use to save money calling to the US. I can also send SMS messages like I would send an email message. You also have the ability to listen to your voicemails from the web page. It’s the way managing telecommunication should be.
The only issue that I have with Google Voice is that it doesn’t work seamlessly in Canada. In order for me to use the service, I had to set up my account while I was in the US. There is no means to forward the call to a Canadian number unless you had a legacy GrandCentral number. There’s also a change in FroYo that I can’t validate. It seems like Google Voice is disabled in Canada. It will work if you had Google Voice set up before the upgrade. To enable it, you have to pop in a US SIM card and enable Google Voice over wifi. That being said, it’s an awesome service and I can’t wait to be able to use it fully here.