Mike McDonald | Staff Writer
Check your tinfoil hats at the door
What would you say if a company asked you if you’d like to have
all of your home, work and cell phone calls, all your text messages,
all your conference calls, all your voicemail -- pretty much
anything you say or type into a phone -- ALL of it -- go thru
their 3rd party service? You, like me, would probably say; Thanks
but no thanks.
But wait. What if they were going to give you a bunch of really
cool features and capabilities in the process? For free? Oh, and
what if the company were Google? Now you might be saying; Oh yeah?
Well... what kind of cool features? I would.
Google Voice is the new ‘Coolest Thing Ever’ coming out of Google.
Basically, what they are doing is allowing you to centralize your
multiple phone numbers (work/home/cell etc). In the process they
have come up with all kinds of handy tools and features that give
end users more control over their telecom than they have ever had
Essentially, here’s how it goes down. You get a new Google
assigned phone number. Then, you route all of your other phone
numbers thru that number. So, your office phone, your work phone,
your home phone - whatever. Google voice will allow your calls to
selectively ring thru to any of the destination handsets you
choose. It really is a handy idea in concept.
Beyond that, Voice adds all kinds of cool little bonus features
- You can selectively ring calls thru to multiple destinations.
- You can selectively block and screen calls
- You can send, receive forward and store SMS text messages
- Check your voicemail online, read it via email or text
(you can even forward it)
- You can create personalized voicemail messages per contact
- You can group your contacts and manage their preferences on
a group level
- Conference calling, call recording, call switching, 411 info --
all that kind of thing is in there.?
Now, rephrase my original question and substitute Google for
'a company'. Do you still flatly refuse? I'm thinking a lot of
people will just say "Oh, it's Google" and after that, "Well
sure, that sounds fantastic! Wow. Man, Google is cool aren't
they?" So, my question is: why is that?
Yes, Google Voice is cool. Yes, I have signed up. Yes, I realize
using it means everything I use it for becomes more data for
Google to 'organize'. But I might do it anyway and I won't be
The way I see it, Google Voice users will be made up of three
groups of people:
Group 1: Realize how much data the service gives Google access
to, but trusts Google enough that it isn't a concern. These
folks also elected Obama and only eat tuna clearly labeled
Group 2: Realize the data issue but don't care, because they
realize their 'data' is all over the place anyway - Google might
as well have some (more) too. These are also the people who
told their classmates about Santa in the 3rd grade.
Group 3: No idea or thought paid to the matter of their data and
who sees it. This the reality TV set. As long as the Bachelorette
is still on Monday night... they're good to go.
Add those guys up and Google Voice will do just fine. Even some
of the people that refuse to use over privacy issues will trickle
in after a while. Peer pressure and the whole, 'man I wish my
phone did that' factor is not to be lightly discounted (just ask
Google Voice does lots of neat stuff... Sure you give up a
little in the way of data privacy, but hey... selective call
block? How cool is that? I can go to the lake and have my
office line ring to my cell? Well that certainly has it's
practical applications. We are, most of us, used to trading a
little bad for a little good. So what's it going to be for you?
Are you Pro or Con on the Google Voice thing? If you are, which
of my groups do you fit into, or are you a group unto your own?
Drop by the comments section and let us know:
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