Monday, July 20, 2009

Google Voice

I received my invite for Google Voice last week and activated it over the weekend. I really like the “pick your phone#” wizard which lets you type in “words” and find #’s that match it. Unfortunately “beer” wasn’t available (a friend used to have 862-BEER back in college).

The only thing I found that needed a bit of improvement was SMS handling. Voice messages arrive in your gmail inbox, however SMS only goes to your Voice inbox (although they are immediately sent to your cell phone if so configured). Gmail and Voice aren’t tightly integrated – two separate systems with hyperlinks between them.

And the Call Presentation feature needs a tad more work. First – don’t do what I did when I first tried it, “hey this is a test” --- you can’t delete the announcement recording (at least I couldn’t find a way). Second – the audio so far has been horribly garbled, I’m not sure I’d actually know who was calling.

Now I see the Google master plan. They now know who emails each other, what you search for, calls between people, and since Voice also includes the ability to transcribe vmail to text… they also know What We’re Talking About. Add that information to a social website like Facebook and they can play the Kevin Bacon game on each of us… with context!

It will be a matter of time before some bank or insurance company tries to buy a social website. Years ago I would have thought that wasn’t a good fit. Now I’d think it was right in line with their algorithms that attempt to figure out who we are and build risk based products for each individual. Have you ever looked at the information you are giving up when playing a “game” in Facebook? The game is like the candy that a creepy old guy gives out when trying to lure a kid away in a park – remember your childhood training - don’t take it and run!

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