I was somehow invited into the Google Voice beta, and I am loving it. It works, it’s cheap, and under some circumstances it can make telephony cheaper for some people, e.g. college kids.
Having a single number to be called in and never miss a call since it rings on all of your available phone numbers, having spam detection, free SMS, free Voicemail (accessible via the web, either with speech-to-text or via direct audio), and even free call-in on VoIP, well, all these features are really cool. Especially since a few years ago I left VoIP behind. I have now paired my Gizmo5 SIP number to Google Voice, and it works wonderfully well. I have a free call-in from around the world, without paying a dime. And if I want to call out, I pay nothing for calls in the continental US, and only $0.02 per minute for France/Greece. This is dirt cheap, cheaper than any VoIP operator, let alone actual carriers!
In the past, one had to use IPKall if he/she wanted to use a free call-in number with VoIP SIP, but this didn’t always work well, as they delete your account if you don’t use it after a few weeks. With Google Voice, there’s no such fear.
I believe the following plan could work for many poor people or college kids. Here’s how:
1. Get an unlocked cheap Nokia S60 smartphone with VoIP SIP WiFi support. You can get one for $200.
2. Get a free Gizmo5 VoIP SIP account/number.
3. When you eventually get your Google Voice invite, “pair” it with your VoIP SIP number (follow the instructions on Google’s page, you must not include the +1 prefix in order for this to work).
4. [Optional] Get a $25-per-3-months “pay-as-you-go” SIM card from either T-Mobile or AT&T, so you can call out too if you need to. Alternatively, you can buy call-out credit from Gizmo5, which is much cheaper ($0.04 per min), but that would mean that you can only call-out when connected to WiFi.
4. Give everyone your Google Voice number. Your VoIP # will now start ringing (and your cell # too, if it’s also paired).
5. When you are visiting others who have a landline, e.g. your old folks who might not have WiFi in their home, you can temporarily pair their phone number with your Google Voice too, so you won’t have to use your cellphone at all (Google can also ring your incoming calls on both phones).
The only thing I would like to see from Google Voice is an actual VoIP SIP protocol that they host themselves. This way, I would be able to call-out with their dirt cheap rates without having to go through Gizmo5’s (somewhat crazy sometimes) servers and higher rates. If this ever happens, I would like Google to make absolutely sure their SIP servers work with the Nokia VoIP phones. And why not, write a good Android SIP client too (not third party, but part of Android, so it’s well integrated).
Another feature I would like to see is the ability to say to the system “if I receive a call between 11 PM to 11 AM, put it straight on voicemail” (update: the option exists in the advanced menu of each paired phone). I might then put up my Google Voice number on my blog, and ask people call me directly with their video editing questions. I get about 10 emails daily about video tech support, and honestly, I rather talk than write… 😉