By Alok Saboo on August 5th, 2009
@mjgraves made an interesting tweet earlier about why he was not ready to use Google Voice as his primary number. His tweet inspired me to think the pros and cons of using Google Voice as your primary number. We are all familiar with the positives of GV like ability to make free calls within USA, send free text messages, save cell phone minutes, etc. Let me discus why I think Google Voice is not ready for prime-time. I am using this service since its early avatar, GrandCentral, so I probably know a thing or two about it.
- Ability to receive SMS: Although GV allows you to send text messages (SMS) to USA/Canada numbers and some other international numbers, I am not very confident of its SMS receiving capabilities. Many applications do not deliver text messages to GV numbers, Ericsson labs being one of them. Also, a GV number may not be very useful where you have to list the carrier of your number. Some users are complaining about messages not being delivered to some networks.
- Making calls is not seamless: GV app for Android is a great example of how GV should integrate with your smart phone. Unfortunately, this is still not a reality for most smartphones. Apple recently rejected the official Google Voice App and removed all the Google Voice app from its App Store. Till the integration is seamless, making calls using Google Voice will take a few more clicks (see 7 below).
- NO in network calling: Most carriers allow free calls within their networks. If you use GV as your primary number, then you may not be able to make use of this. Not only will it hurt your ability to make free calls within your network, research has shown that it will lower the number of calls that other people will make to your number. This would mean that if you use your Google Voice number, you would also USE YOUR CELL PHONE MINUTES.
- Reliability: With all due respect to Google, Google Voice is still an IT application. We all know that applications or networks are bound to fail. I am sure you would have heard about the recent Gmail outages. Imagine what would happen if your GV number goes down for a few hours. For businesses or managers, this may be very crucial. Further, there is always the risk of carriers blocking Google Voice numbers.
- Delay in voice: Although it has improved, lot of users have complained about a slight delay in the voice while using Google Voice. Note that by using Google Voice, you are adding a layer in between and it is bound to have some implications.
- Privacy concerns: Since all your calls are routed through Google servers, it may be a potential risk for lot of users.
- No SIP support: Google Voice does not natively support SIP (at least as yet). This makes using Google Voice a little cumbersome. You have to rely on the website or some other app to make calls.
- No support in case of any issues: This may be the most important issue for business users. In case of any difficulties, it is almost impossible to contact Google and get an answer to your queries. Many users would be happy to pay for a premium version, with support, Service Level Agreements (SLA), etc.
Did I miss anything? Why do you think that you should or should not use Google Voice as your primary number?