Top unified communication vendors like Agito have been working hard to give RIM’s BlackBerry devices integrated deskphone features, but now Google Voice is getting in the game.
Today, the search-and-everything-else-Internet giant unveiled its Google Voice application for both BlackBerry and Android, which integrates Google Voice’s 1-number calling and call-forwarding service into those devices.
As a long-time Google Voice user (since early on in its Grand Central days), I had to give the new service a whirl. For the BlackBerry, users just browse to m.google.com/voice, download the app, sign in and ta-da: Your Google Voice address book, and all Google Voice voicemails, are just an app click away.
This means that when I’m using my cell phone for work, I can have my Google Voice number show on the receiver’s caller ID instead of my personal cell number. It also means I can quickly flip through Google Voice’s automatic transcriptions of my voicemail or, if the transcription is garbled (One recent message: “hi michael act kathryn capture with the cisca”) I can click a button and download the original audio.
Google Voice lacks some of the features the enterprise-focused vendors have. Unlike Agito, for example, I can’t route my calls over Wi-Fi and save cellular minutes. Enterprises also can’t currently “push” the service to users.
Nor is the integration quite as slick as many alternatives: If I’m calling from the Address Book, the popup menu lets me route the call through Google Voice, but other areas of the phone (such as missed calls) don’t give me that option.
Overall, however, it’s a great early effort with an unbeatable price: Free, if you can get a coveted Google Voice invite, and Google’s made clear they want to boost the rate those invitations go out.