Tag Archives | Google Voice

Google’s (Unpleasant, Heavy-Handed) Father’s Day Surprise

To celebrate Father’s Day, Google inserted a line underneath the Google Voice calling feature in Gmail’s Chat feature: “Reminder: Call dad.” Sounds innocuous, huh?

Well, no. Some people who don’t have dads were understandably¬†upset by the note. Eventually, most of us won’t have a dad to call; I’m surprised that nobody at Google figured out that the message would be at best irrelevant and at worst an unhappy little moment for a meaningful percentage of Gmail users.

Companies like Hallmark and 1-800-Flowers presumably don’t worry much about Father’s Day and Mother’s Day advertising hurting anyone’s feelings. But Google’s “reminder,” while promotional in nature, was presented as a task-like item within a piece of Web-based productivity software. That made it feel more personal. It also involved Google futzing around with an application used by millions of people. Microsoft wouldn’t insert a Father’s Day requirement¬†reminder into Outlook–and even though Outlook is a paid product and Gmail isn’t, Google crossed a boundary which it apparently didn’t realize existed.

It’s a safe bet that Google won’t commemorate Father’s Day or Mother’s Day in this particular way again. But I hope it comes away from this with another lesson: it needs to tread gingerly when it comes to messing around with Gmail and other apps for any reason except making them better. And sometimes even then.


Google Number Porting Now Available

Google has rolled out the long-awaited option to port your existing wireless number to Google Voice. It costs $20, and while the porting itself might be straightforward, dealing with your wireless carrier–you’ll still need one, and will need a wireless number–may be complicated. And if you’re currently under contract, you may end up paying an early termination fee even if you continue service.

(I’m still figuring out whether I want to give this a try.)


Google Voice Number Portability is on Its Way

Engadget’s Ross Miller notes that Google is testing the ability to port your existing, old-school phone number and make it a Google Voice number. Which I’d like to do. But it’s a little confusing, since Google Voice is not a replacement for standard phone numbers but a complement to them. If you’re under contract to a wireless carrier and port the number in question to Google Voice, you’d terminate the contract and pay ugly fees–and wouldn’t have a real-world phone number anymore.

What I want to do is make my current AT&T number into a Google Voice number–but then I’d need a new AT&T number which people who called my Google Voice number would reach me at.

I wonder if AT&T would give me a new number if I asked?


Free Google Voice Calls in Gmail Through 2011

The ability to place free calls to (and receive calls from) landlines via Google Voice from within Gmail is one of Google’s least flashy but most useful offerings. (The quality is spectacular–I never bother with a headphone, and nobody’s ever asked me “Hey, am I on speaker?”). And now Google says this service will remain free through the end of next year.

I do have a request, though–one I suspect Google will eventually address: I’d like to be able to place and make calls from within Google Voice itself, not just Gmail.



Hallelujah! Google Voice Returns to the iPhone App Store

The saints be praised. After loosening and clarifying its App Store policies last week, Apple is proving that things–some of them, at least–have changed. A third-party Google Voice app called GV Connect is in the App Store, almost fourteen months after Apple removed all third-party Google Voice apps and refused to approve Google’s own one. Sean Kovacs, developer of GV Mobile, one of the programs bounced last year, says that Apple has told him his app will return tomorrow.

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