The Intimated Threat of Google Voice for Android

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?

A recent Computer World article about Cisco Systems may be an indicator of storm clouds on the Verizon horizon:

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?

13 thoughts on “The Intimated Threat of Google Voice for Android”

  1. Sure hope it makes its way to the iPhone soon. Then again, I do plan to pick up a Hero (running Android). Incidentally, I killed my AT&T text messaging plan this week. (Though, I’ll still get billed for incoming messages here in US… unlike the rest of the developed world.)

  2. I’m still trying to score an invite, but now it really is attractive with the Android app. It will be interesting to see how the telcos react although it’s not clear to me they have any great options to counter with.

  3. I have a GV account, but still trying to get my brain around it. Although I don’t know if it is seamless enough for everyday use, I’m still rooting for the iPhone version to come. The rates charged for text messaging are highway robbery.

  4. @evan

    I agree about “everyday seamless use”, and at least for the moment, maintain my regular carrier issued wireless number.

    …what you and I may need is the rumored ability to formally port our Google Voice number over to our respective carriers. Soon!

  5. Really want to try this out – especially with the new BB app

    So is the only way to get an invite for Google Voice is to wait for them to respond to the e-mail I left them on their site?

  6. ive been using GV for a week and the blackberry app since yesterday. so far i like it a lot. its a pain when you have to download the vm to your bb (only if transcription doesnt work) but i think overall the concept is cool. i was surprised the apps came out so quickly too…

  7. I just got a google voice invite 2 days ago…I signed up like 4 months ago or so to be notified. but now I really want a Palm Pre GV app :(

  8. Received my Google Voice invite earlier this week and have been trying it out since. So far I love it. Google has something very significant on its hands with this one.

    The blackberry app is okay, but lacking a few features I’d like to see. But once Google brings number portability this thing is going to be huge.

  9. @Brent

    “…The blackberry app is okay, but lacking a few features I’d like to see..”

    Well, yeah, I am sure there’s lots of room for improvement on “foreign” devices like Blackberry, iPhone, Pre, etc.

    Part of writing this post was my appreciation for the advantages to be gained when you are the maker of the web service, *and* the maker of the locally installed app *AND* the maker of the phone’s operating system. “The whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.” per the definition of the word synergy:

    …Only Google is in a position to do this, the telcos only wish they could!

  10. This is mostly pretty OLD, and outdated info though it is from 09′. Now what is still relevant is that Google is still being frowned upon by some companies such as the mentioned Cisco Systems and other companies, that is, legally challenges for the “multiple phone ringing” feature and other features at stake here, that they offer with GV, however, invites are no longer needed to join, and the carriers really AREN’T doing that much to Google yet. But we’ll see the aftermath and the aftershock pretty soon of this “one size fits all” voice and texting solutions that Google has made universal, or to everyone, that has angered Cisco and other telco-companies out there.

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