I received an invite to join Google Voice yesterday even though I don’t really think I have any need for the service, but hey it’s Google and it’s free so why not. To get the invite all I did was went to http://www.google.com/voice about 2 weeks ago, entered my information and waited. The invite arrived yesterday after I almost completely forgot about the service. I signed up, picked a number, linked it to my cell phone (since that’s the only phone I have) and was on my way…. to something, I guess.

I got a pretty cool number, I think, it’s the same forwards as it is backwards. I wanted to try and get a number like (xxx)awe-some, but numbers like that were already taken, so I settled. So what can you do with Google Voice? Well, I can call people from my computer, people can call my new number and I guess it rings my cell phone… people can leave voicemail and I can check it online and it also transcribes it to text which is kind of cool. I can also receive text messages to the new number and they forward to my cell phone and I can send/receive them online.

Now like I said, I really don’t feel I have a use for this service since I only have 1 phone, my cell phone. So what is the point of me getting this new number just to have it forward to my cell phone? That doesn’t seem to make any sense when people already know my cell phone number and can just call me on that. I thought maybe it could be used to save on minutes and texts, but first of all Apple denied the Google Voice app from the App Store and then removed the unofficial ones, and second of all Apps can’t run in the background on the iPhone anyways, so if I got a call or a text to the Google Voice number it would just get forwarded to my cell phone as a call or text, thus using my minutes/texts from my cell plan. I have plenty of minutes on my plan, but my text messages are where I run into trouble. AT&T charges an arm and a leg for texts compared to the other carriers, $20 for unlimited texts on top of the iPhone data plan is a little ridiculous. That’s $50 just for data, cause yes, texts are data and cost the cell companies next to nothing. So I was thinking that maybe I could use Google Voice for text messages now, but again there’s no way for me to really get them on my phone besides having them forwarded as texts to my number, thus negating the purpose.

My iPhone is jailbroken so I was able to get the unofficial Google Voice app on my phone through other means, but it still doesn’t help me in receiving texts. There are no push notifications for this app and no background processes (unless I wanted to run backgrounder, which I heard isn’t entirely stable on the 3GS yet) so essentially I’d have to send a text and leave the app running while refreshing every couple of seconds to see if I got a new text. I did read that there is a round about way to use Prowl on the iPhone and Growl on your computer at home to send notifications to your phone, but I would have to leave a computer on all the time at home, and who knows what else. Just seems like too much work for me.

So really, the only thing that I’ve found useful about Google Voice is that I can leave it open at work and send/receive texts via the website all day without using my phone. It’s a lot easier to type on a computer keyboard, it’s free, and I look like I’m actually working! Basically I’ve found no use for this service yet, but I’m sure it’s good for those of you that have multiple numbers and want may need to keep them organized, but for me I don’t get it. Maybe I’ll change all my domain registrar phone numbers to this number and maybe other business stuff, but we’ll see.

Is anyone else using this service? Am I completely missing the point? Let me know if there’s a good reason for a person with only 1 phone number (cell phone) to use this?

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  • Anthony

    I admit, if you have an iPhone, it may not be that great; although that is not Google’s fault. They are working on a web app for iPhone users, though I don’t know if it will address your issues.

    There is a Google Voice app for Blackberry and Android based phones. I can’t speak for the Blackberry app, but the Android app has been working great for me. As you mentioned, it has enabled me to cut down on my texts and minutes through t-mobile and get a cheaper cell phone plan. The Android app integrates nicely with the phone. Very useful if you aren’t an iPhone user. Apples arbitrary approval process is terrible.