Category Archives: Beta

To Google Voice or Not To Google Voice?

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I recently got a new iPhone 3GS (32GB!) and with it a new phone number. I’ve had a Google Voice number from way back when it was called GrandCentral. I never used it because I found the integration a bit lacking. As I now must inform people of my new number, I was thinking about giving them the Google Voice one instead of the “real” one. This is also as Google Voice is getting considerable buzz since it’s finally giving away invites after closing off the service quite some time ago.

Here are some pros and cons to either choice.

Pros:

  • I don’t have to ever tell people I’m changing my phone number again in the future.
  • Neat voicemail transcripting.
  • Routing calls from phone to phone (I might want it to go to my work phone at certain times, mobile  at other times)
  • Googliness?

Cons:

  • The voicemail system won’t be integrated into my iPhone
  • There isn’t an official iPhone app for Google Voice yet.
  • SMS doesn’t work with short codes (40404 for Twitter)
  • Calls made through voice won’t count as “mobile-to-mobile.”
  • Other integration issues.
  • Possible dependency issues.

For me, Google Voice is pretty cool, but not cool enough to rely on because of its crappy integration. By crappy integration, I mean that Google Voice just simply cannot expect to integrate itself well into other companies’ phone systems. There are a number of examples of this. One is that if I want to send a text to someone, I need to use Google Voice to do it instead of my phone. This adds a layer of obfuscation to the process. Here’s what the help doc on Google Voice says:

Call, Voicemail and SMS Issues: Receiving SMS on phone from 406 numbers
When you send an SMS through Google Voice, the SMS appears to be sent from your Google number. When someone sends an SMS to your Google number, and it’s forwarded to your mobile phone, it won’t appear as from the sender’s actual number (e.g., the SMS may appear from 1-406-xxx-xxxx). This is so that when you reply to the 1-406-xxx-xxxx number from your phone, the SMS you send appears to be sent from your Google number and will be saved in your Google Voice inbox.

Holy crap, that’s just confusing! Another example of Google Voice not playing well with existing companies’ systems would be mobile-to-mobile calls. If I call my sister using Google Voice, the call probably won’t count as “free” since it’s going to Google instead of directly to her phone number. Though apparently if you add the Google Voice number to T-Mobile’s “Faves” you could get some pretty interesting free call results…

Another peeve I have about Google Voice is that they’ve decided to make the mobile apps for Blackberry and Android thus far. I wonder if this is because the iPhone is a competitor to their own Android platform or if they just decided it would be easier, or for any other reason. It kind of shows a “Microsoft Moment” for lack of better term for Google; writing software to serve their own ends versus writing software to reach their customers on the platform they use. I don’t have any numbers to back this up though (are there more Android+Blackberry users than iPhone?), so at this point I’m just complaining because I have an iPhone and it doesn’t have an app.

For now I will ditch Google Voice (or just not use it) until it can be integrated effortlessly into my own mobile phone’s system. The whole point of using Google Voice is to simplify things. I can see it’ll be a really complicated road ahead for Google to actually implement this, but I hope they do. It almost surely means they’ll need to work with phone companies directly. This will probably take time and lots of money. I’ll just stick with my own phone’s capabilities until then.

Pownce Beta Impressions Update: Uploads Work!

Hmm. It looks like they fixed the uploads. Oh, Leah Culver, when will you learn that hotswaps aren’t infallible

So now Pownce is actually kinda neat. One issue I saw was that one of the MP3s I uploaded (umm, totally a song I wrote and performed myself…) played at like, .01x speed. Weird. Also, I had registered as a “friend” of some people, then removed the friendship (or fanship) and their messages still stayed on my page for a while. Oh well.

Other than that, the site sure is slick. I can see this being a cool way to share neat music with people. It comes with its own mp3 player (which has some bugs), but so does gmail. I like the instant gratification feeling though. Aw hell, it’s fun to use, even if it isn’t a serious replacement for that thing I like to call “electronic mail.”

Pownce: Beta Impressions

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I got a Pownce invite today (Thanks Jessica!) and finally got a chance to try out the hot beta. Unfortunately I couldn’t actually get any of my uploads to work…

While the site is pretty nice looking and slick, if the functionality doesn’t work, it’s useless. I think it could actually be somewhat useful for sharing files with a select group of friends. Like “hey, I like this song, check it out” and bam!

Then again, you could do that by email, but email is SOOOOO 1999! Actually, email’s more like 1979, but you get the idea. If only Pownce worked… The worst part is that it’s a beta product, but there’s no way to report a bug besides using (wait for it…) email. How ironic, indeed.

GrandCentral Beta: Impressions

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So I’ve been getting a lot of invites to random beta things recently. The latest one is GrandCentral, a sort of central hub for your phone number. It was just recently bought by Google, which is sorta neat. GrandCentral says:

GrandCentral doesn’t replace your phones; we just link them together and help them do more. How do we do that? We give people One Number…for Life – a number that’s not tied to a phone or a location – but tied to you.

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.

This idea is good in theory. My family’s had the same home phone number for like, 20+ years, and if we ever changed that number, a lot of people would instantly lose contact with us, since it’s the only thing point of contact they have. I signed up and chose a number in the 505 area code (they give you a bunch of choices and you pick one).

I change cell phone service a lot, which means I usually just change the number as well. It’s always a hassle to tell everyone when my phone number’s changed. With GrandCentral, I could just change the number that my primary number forwards to.

So far, the service works. I have it currently set up to ring on my cell phone, but you can also have it ring to other places as well. GrandCentral also supports things like spam filtering in case you get a telemarketer call.

I think the service is interesting, but I’m not sure I want to “change” my phone number with a service that’s still in beta. Who knows how long the company will be around? The fact that Google has acquired GrandCentral is a good sign, but I’m still a bit wary of giving people this number since it’d be a hassle to change it again.

i’m in like with you – Beta Impressions + Invites!

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Yesterday I tried out i’m in like with you, another hip startup type thing. It’s a social network that lets you find cool people near you and play “games” with them. The games involve setting up a question and having others answer them. Like the dating game? Then you get points for being the most clever or something.

I’m not sure why this site is getting so much attention. It’s okay, but it has yet to offer enough users. There’s no women within 100 miles of my zip code!!!

Oh, and yet again, I have invites if anyone wants to try this.

Also, there was once this site called “Consumating” that was really similar. I had fun with it for a few weeks or so, but it got old. Then I went back to Facebook. I have a feeling i’m in like with you will suffer a similar fate.