Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Grand Unified Theory of Contact Numbers

So, Mel and I just got our invites to Google Voice, which used to be grand central.

Google Voice is a service that allows you to have one single number that people can call you on, and that you can call them back on; that will ring any phone number you want it to, on any schedule you want it ti; screen your calls and take your voicemail (and transcribe and email it to you); and in general act as a single point of contact for you.

Oh, and it's free.

Now, that may not seem like a big deal to someone who has say, just a mobile phone, or just a mobile and a landline.

That person would not be me.

I have a home land line, a work landline, two mobile phones (home and work), and two voip lines. Oh and that doesn't include Mels mobile, or work line.

I used to have a similar service called Webley, and I loved it. In fact I was once of their first customers. I found out about them because I set up their firewalls, and I stayed a customer until they stopped offering their service to individuals (they were eventually bought out and now you can get that service for your corporate voicemail, but not as an individual).

Google voice also has a feature the others don't: It can ring any phone you happen to be at, and then connect you to any number in your address book with the click of a web button; again, for free.

Of course, I already have free (actually very low cost because I pay for premium services from them) VOIP from skype; but this is an additional service that gives you a lot of extra flexibility aside from what skype gives you.

And of course, if you have a skype-in number (I do) you can add it to the pool, and schedule it like any other number.

The downside? Google gets yet more of your data.

Honestly, Google has so much of my data already, I'm not too worried about the rest. I trust Google more than I trust AT&T or QWest, who already have that data anyway.

Now if they would just let me port numbers to them, and offer 800 service, I can drop my virtual PBX provider entirely.