Google Voice has been around for about a year and a half now. While there have been some nice improvements, like the Android app and voicemail options, there is still room for more goodies. Some of these may be a bit far fetched, for now, but I believe that all of these (and probably more) MUST be implemented in order for Voice to become my central communication hub.
Oh, yeah. I was going to include VoIP, as a new feature, but Google beat me to it. You can now make and receive calls, with your Voice number, using Gmail.
- Number Porting – Slightly after Voice was released, Google tested a number portability with a select few individuals. There were rumors that this would be available to all in October…last October. Since then, there hasn’t been much chatter about the feature. I didn’t want to bother my friends, family and colleagues with learning a new number, so I just used Voice’s voicemail features. Recently, I took the plunge and sent out a mass email, letting everyone know my new number. There are still a few stragglers, calling the old one, but I’m close. So number portability isn’t that important to me, but it may be the reason some folks haven’t fully embraced Voice.
- Short Codes – You know what short codes are; “Text MUSIC to 1234 to receive blah blah blah”. Currently Voice does not support these. Why are short codes important? One reason: Twitter. Twitter uses 40404 to send and receive tweets. It’s not such a big if you want to send a tweet, since there are plenty of native Twitter apps or you can use the mobile website. However, if you want to receive SMS alerts, for certain friends/businesses/celebrities/whatever, you can’t. In order to attach a mobile number to Twitter, you need to send a verification code to 40404. Impossible with Voice.
- MMS – Seriously? You’re telling me that I can send a 25MB file via Gmail, but I can’t send a 150KB picture with a Voice SMS? Sure I could just email the picture, but not everyone has a smartphone with email or checks their email regularly. This is a no-brainer. Add this, Google. (FYI: MMS is basically a text message, but with a picture, video or audio attached)
- Forward Multiple Numbers – I have a few Voice numbers. One is my personal number. I created one as a “business” number. Recently I created one for an organization, that I’m part of. However, you can only attach any of your phone numbers to ONE Voice number. If you try to attach it to a second Voice number, you get an error. Also, you HAVE to forward to at least one real number. So you can’t sign up for an account, and just use it as a voicemail/sms inbox. In addition to my multiple Voice numbers, my company has a Voice number. What if I wanted to have this forward to my mobile? I can’t. This all may change since you can now make and receive Voice calls via Gmail. Maybe they’ll allow you to use Gmail as the required forward-to “number”. I also think there should be a limit. Maybe a number can only be attached to 5 Voice numbers.
- Enterprise – This one is multifaceted. I’ll break it down into a few smaller requests:
- For starters, Voice needs to be integrated as a feature of Google Apps for Business. Recently, Google announced that Apps users can now access more Google services, with their Apps login. This is cool, but it’s still not an integrated solution.
- Fax please. Incoming fax to email. Outgoing email/attachments as a fax. That is all.
- Businesses with multiple employees would benefit from a switchboard service. A customer could call the main number, dial an extension, then the call is forwarded to whatever number the employee wants. It could be another Voice number or directly to a mobile number. Each extension would have a voicemail account.
I’m not asking for all of these features to be free…especially the enterprise solution. However, I’d like to see them ASAP. Actually, I’d like to see Voice fully integrated into Gmail. There’s no need to have a separate inbox.