Google Voice

August 26, 2010 by Post Team 

Google Voice, While the integration of Google and Gmail voice creates an interesting synergy between the two services, there is still room for improvement.

The service, announced at a press conference Wednesday morning, essentially allows users to make voice calls through Gmail for mobile anywhere in the world. Calls to landlines and mobiles within the U.S. are free, Google charges a small fee to dial numbers in other parts of the world, depending on the region and if it is a landline or a cell phone.

As suggested by the synergy, Google Voice users can take advantage of voice features of Google back in the context of Gmail, including the ability to record phone calls, letting users listen to voicemail and then join a call or incoming call “ring” as a separate phone and the browser.

Unfortunately, I am somewhat unique position to use the same number for home and business calls. (I’m a Vonage subscriber, and for several years.) As hundreds of contacts that I have my number, and since Google does not allow numbers to be transferred to the service, I blocked its adoption. In other words, I could not test through Google Voice.

Most likely, you will receive an invitation to use the service in the coming days, at least if you’re abroad U.S. users ultimately receive the voice of Google with Gmail, but Google executives could not give a complete timeline on Wednesday.

When you do, you are prompted to download a small client (for Windows, Macintosh, or Linux) which will add the option-based echo cancellation software and the magic of others, using technology developed by Global IP Solutions and Vidyo and Google itself.

As the slideshow, through Google Voice is relatively simple, in the left navigation bar, click the “call” option somewhat hidden under his name and status. The result is a small marker on the left, with a flag drop-down menu. Click on it and a list of prefixes by country appears.

On the table is a quick dial number: Dial credits. By default, Google provides users with ten cents, enough to call the Louvre in Paris for five minutes at 2 cents per minute. (A drop-down box to the right of the credits allows users to see the prices of Google for landlines and mobile to buy credits in increments of 10 y).

Contact lost

Naturally, one would think that would be integrated fully into Gmail contacts, and here is where the combination of struggle.

My first objection is that it is not entirely clear whether a call is considered an extension of Google Chat, which occupies most space in the Gmail screen. (Answer: it is, despite clicking on an icon for Google Chat, including the video “and more” drop down menu does not bring the “call” option. Instead, you have to click on “chat” and then a small icon lets you start a voice call.)

That leads to another issue: video chats are free, but some calls are not. If it happens that the person who wishes to speak in England is on your computer but not using Gmail, you may find you lose a few cents to discover that.

Chat Rather, I think Google wants to use the Guide as the main interface. In the past, the most important piece of information for each contact is an email address, and now, entering a phone number becomes equally important. Here, the Android phone users have the advantage: the phones require a contact telephone number to be useful.

But here, too, Google does not fully integrate the voice of Google and Gmail. Although the default contacts list displays your email address, physical address and phone number, the Contact Manager only includes an “Email”, which probably should have a contact “Phone” as well. And if you select the actions “More” drop-down menu, there will still be disappointed because Google reserves the box on the management of contact names themselves.

So how to realize the phone number of a contact without having to remember the number? When you type in the box where normally appear enter the number. Intuitive? Possibly, if you are a user of Google Chrome, where the white box at the top of the page intuitively understands both Web page addresses and searches.

Even if you secure cognitive leap, however, the service still faces. I asked the dialer to call my friend Josh, and began to enter his name. While the score quickly went up the number, he threw his two mobile and house number on two separate – and failed to distinguish the two. Yes, although I have entered a “mobile” and “Home” in its page number of contacts, Gmail appears two entrances, one each with a number, the name of Josh, and his email address. Google never indicated that the number was a landline, and that was for your mobile phone, had to manually open contacts (on another tab, no less), find the number of Josh, and call.

Unfortunately, that’s almost a deal-breaker as far as I’m concerned. Contrast that with Android, Android Google has launched voice actions allow the user to dial a number, email, text or telephone number, and even go to a specific place – all through a search for one-touch voice .

Unfortunately, Microsoft has made this type of dial a contact from a business solution functionality with Exchange 2010. I would be interested to know what kind of spin Redmond consumers could bring to this space.

Call quality

The Voice of Google / Gmail mobile client uses its built-in microphone with echo cancellation added to your machine. I tried on my horse of recent years, an IBM (no, not a Lenovo) T42, and a new Lenovo T410. It worked well in both.

Fortunately, Google seems to have worked to ensure that the actual call experience went well, although not perfect. From my office in San Francisco, I called a colleague in New York on a DSL line encrypted VPN service to its line of circuit switching in the first attempt, the phone rang and rang, did not even reach his voice mail. In the second attempt, we have been able to connect. He reported that my voice sounds like a normal phone call, even when I played a snippet of an MP3 on the phone for further testing.

When I called my friend Josh in southern California on your cell phone, however, reported that my voice sounded as if on an AM radio. The call connected easily enough, by the way, apparently, Google uses a number he had in Escondido, California, to connect to my friend, about 70 miles away.

Sundar Pichai, where are you?

The integration of voice and Google Gmail is a good first step, but cries for a harmonious integration more closely with other Google products and services. At this stage, Google has not even reached the “Click to call” the vision that led to the eBay purchase of Skype.

Over time, the functionality of Google Voice, inevitably, be integrated into maps and search functionality, so that Google can connect users and businesses. We can hope that is not a bridge too far for one of the powers of the web.

For now, however, the integration of Google and Gmail’s voice remains a curiosity, a real value only if you’re willing to dig the phone number of the person you need to talk. The problem is that currently the best place to find the phone contacts and, on the phone.

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