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Grandcentral Grows Up


March 11, 2009 10:40 PM PST


I had just about given up on Grand Central, and so had many other people. It is a cool idea and I really like it, but it seemed Google had no intention of actually doing anything with it. Well after 21 months, Google is re-launching it as Google Voice.

For those of us lucky enough to get in on the original beta, we should be able to convert over to the new service in the next few days. There are lots of new features, but the top two that impressed me are 1. Text messages to your Google Voice number to be forwarded to your mobile and elsewhere for you to respond. This is the tech gateway used in Google chat. 2. Voice mail transcription. Voice mails are transcribed and forwarded to you. The system is organized like Gmail and also lets you add notes and tags.

It should be pretty cool. I can't wait to try it out. I hope they fixed the one thing that was broken for me... the fact that you always had to press a number on the keypad to accept and incoming call - even from someone on your friend list. This had two major problems: 1. If you are on a bluetooth headset and your phone is in your pocket, you have to scramble to get your phone out to accept the call. 2. If you forward your calls to a soft-phone like Fring, you can't accept the call at all. This is because many soft-phones only give you a numeric keypad when dialing out, not when accepting an incoming call.

Comments (2)
Paul, March 11, 2009 10:46 PM:


John, March 13, 2009 01:39 PM:

Ok my account finally converted over. All I can say is wow. They fixed all my complaints, and the transcribing worked perfectly in my tests.

You can turn off the call presentation feature for known contacts or groups. This allows me to receive a call via Fring on the iPod touch - or hands free on the cell phone with bluetooth headset!

They have also fixed their mobile interface and voice mail links in email so that they work with the iphone now. (I can drop the hacky scheme I was using) In fact the new mobile site is very usable now. Of course with transcriptions you shouldn't need to listen to the voice mail very often. The mobile site also lets you originate calls that ring both the callee and all your phones, allowing to you avoid long distance charges. This also eliminates the need for the GrandDialer app on the iPhone.

I'm a long time fan of GrandCentral, but only used it sporadically due to the limitations. I am now fully committed to Google Voice. I finally have one number to rule them all.

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