Until now, Google Voice has been a web-only service to manage voicemail in the same way Gmail manages email. That’s no longer the case. But, as of today, Google Voice is a first class locally installed mobile application, available in the Android Market, deeply integrated with the Android operating system. (And there’s a less robust version for Blackberry here.)
Originally called Grand Central before being acquired by Google in 2007, Google Voice is currently in an invite only testing phase – but that may change soon judging by recent events. You can read more information about the general features of Google Voice mobile app for Android on the official blog. But in typical, understated, Google style there’s an intimated threat of two game changing features…
Voice mail karaoke
The “voice mail karaoke” has a scrubber bar, like found in iPhone visual voicemail, that you touch to fast forward or rewind the message. While listening to the audio, the machine generated transcription text follows along at the same pace – as each word is spoken, the corresponding text is highlighted red.
Before, one would often have to replay a voice mail three and four times over to hear the number correctly and write it down, only then to have to manually dial the phone to call the person who left the voice mail back. However, with Google Voice, if the person leaving you a voice mail message spoke the phone number they wish you to call them at, that number appears in the text transcription. So, simply long press the number and your phone dials it.
Free unlimited text messaging (SMS)
With Google Voice, you no longer need to have a text messaging plan with your mobile phone service provider or incur a 20 cent per message charge because text messages are sent through your phone’s data plan. Yes you read that correctly, that means free, unlimited text messaging. Currently, carriers like AT&T are charging the equivalent of $1,300.00 per megabyte for SMS. Testing performed in our secret ZNF laboratory show that barely two kilobytes of data were used to send each text message to other non-Android phones, all on different carrier networks.
How long will the good times last?
Officials at Cisco Systems Inc. say they are closely watching Google Inc.’s aggressive foray onto their unified communications turf and plan to respond quickly by boosting the capabilities of Cisco’s offerings. Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group Research Inc.predicted that over the “long term, Google will have a significant role” in the business.Analysts said that the Google Voice Internet telephony service may pose long-term problems for companies like Cisco and Microsoft Corp.
Now that Google Voice mobile app provides retrieving of voice mails and sending of text messaging for free, do you expect the mobile carriers to sit on their hands and take no action as two of their most lucrative cash cows wither and die?