I like Google Voice, I really do. But now that the search giant has thrown open the gates to make Google Voice free for anyone in the U.S., many more people will get the opportunity to pick and praise.
After all, it was Google's multipronged voice service for forwarding phone numbers, sending free text messages, transcribing voice mail, and making voice messages accessible online that recently got me out of a bind with a broken phone.
Still, there are persistent foibles in the less-than-perfect service that Google bought a scant three years ago when it was still called GrandCentral. The call-block, listening-in, and call-forwarding features are great, and visual voice mail is and has been a plus. But inconsistencies, especially with the computer-aided transcription of voice mail messages and with phone number mess-ups in the Google Voice mobile apps, have continuously disappointed.
We overlooked some drawbacks in the name of a free service that has essentially been in closed beta since 2007, and therefore subject to a little leeway, but all that is about to change now that it's open season. Google Voice already had more than a million subscribers while it was still in invite-only private mode, and I suspect millions more callers will be less forgiving once the thrill of accessing another hot Google service wears off.
Consumer pressure will surely cause Google to throw more resources at the system's holes, and also give it an opportunity to monetize by adding more targeted advertising, planning waves of premium features for consumers, and selling corporate plans to companies managing a mobile workforce. I welcome the compliments and critiques that will hopefully lead to the changes, and Google should too.
So if you're listening, Google, here's my list of the top four features missing in today's Google Voice.… Read more