Google recently acquired a company called GrandCentral, which I was preparing to do a review of anyway after testing the service out a bit. This only makes the offering all that much stronger, and in my opinion it’s something everyone should try out.
Here is the Google acquisition announcement which took about 2 seconds to download directly from my voice mail:
Google Buys GrandCentral
GrandCentral links all of your phone numbers together and layers on a TON of new features. How? They are giving people One Number…for Life – a number that’s not tied to a phone or a location – but tied to you. This number will consolidate your voice messaging, route calls to wherever you are, and even allow you to screen your calls.
With GrandCentral, you can be reached with a single number, answer a call at any phone you want, seamlessly switch phones in the middle of a call, and even know whether a call is important before you take it.
Here are just a few of the features:
- Check your messages by phone, email, or online
- Keep all your messages online for eternity
- Record and store your phone calls (just like voicemail)
- Quickly (and secretly) block an annoying caller
- Click-to-dial from your address book
- Surprise your callers with a custom voicemail greeting
- Forward, download, and add notes to your messages
Folks, if you’ve never used a Find-me, Follow-me service before or had access to your voicemails as e-mail attachments then you don’t know what you’re missing. You really, really need to sign up.
There are a great number of advantages to having this service:
- First, you are no longer tied to a service provider for your phone number. You can change cell numbers, home numbers… whatever. Your GrandCentral number never changes.
- You can set up call screening which requires unknown callers to announce themselves before you accept the call. No more solicitations!
- You can have multiple phones ring simultaneously and grab the one that’s most convenient (or cheapest).
- You can put a “Click to Call” button on your Web site for people to reach you directly from your site.
- While you’re at home or in the office talk on your landline phone, then transfer to your cell if you need to leave, transfer back when you return!
There are also some drawbacks to using a service like this but they can be minimized:
- Friends and Family type calling plans on cell phones get screwed up by this sort of service. Calls from the same network pass through the GrandCentral system so they probably burn up your minutes. So, either have those people continue to use your direct cell number or upgrade your minutes!
- The GC Terms of Service state that it is for non-commercial use only. Considering that people have jobs and are going to have the phone ring to their office I don’t know what they mean by this. But I guess just be aware of it.
- The Web Click to Call feature may conflict with the business use terms. I’m guessing it also only works in the US.
Room for Improvement:
- Find a way around the “Friends and Family” call routing issue.
- For the number to truly be universal it needs to be able to accept inbound faxes as well. (They’ll probably charge for this later.)
- I imagine they will add on optional 800 number support at some time in the future.
- Click to Call from your address book needs to be integrated with Outlook so you don’t have to log in to the Web site.
- How about inbound caller ID notification pop ups on my PC and perhaps a small application that sits in the system tray which gives me access to everything without visiting the Web site?
Now, they are currently in Beta with the service and you have to wait for an invitation. According to their blog it’s kind of hard to get an invite right now. But luckily I’ve been a tester for a while and I can send invites to allow you to skip the wait! All you need to do is drop me a comment below with a request for an invitation (make sure you put your real e-mail address in there).
EDIT: Folks, this service is now known as Google Voice, and I have NO more invites! So please don’t bother asking for one because they don’t exist for anyone, anywhere. You just have to wait to get it direct from Google. In fact, I’m closing the comments on this one…