Just the other day we got word that Google was putting VoIP technology from Gizmo5 to work by creating a Gmail and desktop interface for making VoIP calls with a Google Voice number. Now TechCrunch is reporting the desktop app is indefinitely delayed and may not be released at all. This does not affect the rumored Gmail integration.
The problems stem from an internal disagreement at Google. Many, including founders Larry and Sergey, do not want the company to create desktop software now that they have the Chrome browser to develop HTML5 web apps. This strategy is evidenced by Google's strategy as of late. They've been concentrating on Chrome, Android, and Chrome OS.
The rumor is that the development team has been asked to instead make an HTML5 web app version of the desktop app. Who knows if it will work out, but we'd like to have options for desktop and web-based VoIP solutions.
We've been wondering what Google would do with VoIP service Gizmo5 since their recent acquisition. Now we're getting the first hints of the plan. Google is apparently testing a new VoIP service that will be built into Gmail. The service is expected to allow calls to be placed from a user's Google Voice number. Could this also mean Google Voice is about to open up?
The Gmail interface will gain a new button that will bring up a phone keypad with access to contacts and a credit balance. Before now, if you wanted to make a call using Google Voice you needed a phone to route the call over a voice network. This will also allow users to initiate calls on their Google Voice connected phones.
In addition to the Gmail integration, a desktop app is also in the works. All this is still not open to the public, and Google has been tightlipped about it so far. We find this pretty exciting, you?
Google's innovative Google Voice service is still invite only, but under a new program students can get priority access. In a blog post, the Big G noted many of Google Voice's features are of particular use to students. Apparently, college students are particularly appreciative of the ability to access their voicemail via email, and get free text messages. Though, who isn't?
Google Voice allows users to choose a new phone number that can be forwarded to multiple lines. It offers features like voicemail transcription, call screening, and do not disturb mode just to name a few. Android phones have seamless integration with Google Voice, and there is an official app for Blackberry phones as well.
The new program is technically available to anyone with an email address that ends in .edu. Those signing up at the special student website should expect their invite to show up within 24 hours. So for students, there's no longer any reason to scrounge around online looking for an invite. You can get it right from the source.
If you are a Google Voice user and you’ve tried to explain the service to someone else, it probably didn’t go well. The other party likely came away as flummoxed as ever, and you made a fool of yourself with all that wild gesticulating. Well, that’s what happened to us anyway. Don’t worry though; from now on you can simply direct friends and family to Google’s new series of Youtube videos detailing the “awesomeness” of Google Voice.
The first video is a simple overview called “What is Google Voice?” It does an admirable job of getting to the meat of the service. It doesn’t go into detail about how to use any of the features, but it lets the uninitiated know what they’re going to get when they sign up. It goes over ringing multiple phones, call screening, blocking callers, greetings, and voicemail transcription.
The Google Voice channel also has additional videos about each feature. There are 11 videos in all right now. So even if you’re a veteran Voice user, there might be something to learn from watching them. You can find all the videos right here. Do you have a Google Voice account? How do you use it?
The first part of a typical Apple product launch is out of the way now. During the second leg, skeptics will grudgingly make one final attempt at understanding the device just as fanboys get better at pretending that they know pretty much everything they need to know. Both sides can now also factor in the newfangled prospect of making VoIP calls over the iPad's 3G connection when making their case.
Apple today updated the iPhone developer SDK to accommodate VoIP apps. The move was accompanied by the launch of iCall, the first and only VoIP app for the iPhone and iPod touch. The announcement leaves us with one question, though. Will the iPad support VoIP apps out of the box? There is little reason why it shouldn't.
Apple's ban on VoIP functionality riled many feathers while it lasted. The company's refusal to allow Google Voice to run natively on the iPhone wrecked its relationship with Google, which eventually launched a browser-based HTML 5 app to circumvent the ban. Ironically, VoIP functionality comes to the iPhone barely 24 hours after the launch of the web-based Google Voice app.
It is not clear how this fresh development impacts the hitherto unapproved Google Voice app, which Google claims is not a VoIP app. It uses the carrier's voice network to make phone calls and not the internet connection.
With no end in sight for Apple's ridiculously long review of the Google Voice app for the iPhone, the search engine heavyweight decided to single-handedly break the deadlock. A web-based Google Voice app for the iPhone and Palm's Web OS platform is Google's repartee to Apple's delaying tactics. The HTML 5 app can be accessed from the phone's browser. This being an HTML 5 app, it is more advanced than the existing browser-based version for mobile phones.
The two companies have been on the warpath ever since last July, when Google claimed that Apple had refused to admit its Google Voice app to the App Store. Although Apple had categorically denied rejecting the app back then, Google Voice is yet to earn its approval.
“You can make calls from your phone that show your Google Voice number as the caller ID. You can also listen to voicemail and read voicemail transcripts, send and receive text messages for free, and take advantage of the low international call rates offered by Google Voice,” Google announced on the official Google Mobile blog.
The addition of extensions to the latest versions of Chrome have given Google some serious geek cred in the browser market, but for the most part the extensions we've seen to date are typically knock offs of versions that have been available to Firefox users for years. What Google needed to win over the hearts and minds of those on the fence was a feature nobody else could offer, and now they have it. The Google Voice extension for Chrome is now live, and adds some killer new features to the snappy little browser for anyone who also uses their free voice service.
One of the most useful new additions is the ability to click and call any phone number you find in a web page. This is extremely handy when surfing through business listings, and when you click the number you are given the option to use any of the phone numbers linked to your account. Users will also have a voice icon added directly to the right of their address bar which will allow them to call anybody in their address book, or even send and receive text messages / transcribed voicemails.
TechCrunch has reported some instability in the latest Mac version, but since most of our readers are typically running Windows, I don't expect this will be much of a problem around here. Is this enough to get you to switch to Chrome?
Gizmo5 allows users to make VoIP calls over a data connection much like Skype. It seems clear that Google plans to beef up Google Voice with the technology from Gizmo5. “Gizmo5 gives us talent and talent technology. They have specific tech and skills in further integrating telephony with devices and desktop and Web-based computing,” said Horowitz. Skype already provides VoIP to 500 million users, but if any company can scale up to that level, it’s Google.
Google is already laying the groundwork for its cloud computing endeavors as well. They need users to feel secure storing data in Google’s cloud, and the creation of the Data Liberation Front goes a long way in gaining that trust. Similarly, the Google Dashboard increases data transparency at Google. According to Horowitz, Google is also aware people won’t use cloud services if that aren’t fast. So look forward to “blazing fast” cloud platforms with highly portable data in 2010… we can only hope.
Google is striving to make YouTube friendlier for deaf and hard of hearing people. It today announced the launch of machine-generated automatic captions. But it has chosen to limit the technology to a few YouTube channels for now.
The auto-cap feature has been built on top of the YouTube caption system, and uses the same speech-to-text technology as Google Voice. Though the auto-cap feature is only meant to work with English-language speech, it is possible to automatically translate these automatically-generated captions to 51 different languages.
Another new feature has been added to YouTube in the form of "automatic caption timing." Captions are created using the transcript (text file) uploaded by the user. Google's automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology helps ensure that each word hits precisely the right mark on the timeline, making it easier for users to manually create captions.
Ribbit Mobile is a cloud-based VoIP telephony service. Much the same as Google Voice, you get a phone number to which you can route your phones capable of conditional call-forwarding. Once there Ribbit Mobile can do everything Google Voice does with a call. But it doesn’t stop there. Ribbit Mobile also offers a nifty feature set not yet available in Google Voice. For example, Ribbit Mobile can route your call to any or all other phones you choose, or to Skype, MSN Messenger, or Google Talk. Ribbit Mobile can also alert you to missed calls via email, Skype, Google Talk, or SMS. And Ribbit Mobile has widgets which allow you to connect with iGoogle, Facebook, and MySpace. Best of all you can place calls directly from your browser.
Ribbit Mobile will be offered in two levels. One will be free, with services like voicemail transcription automated. The other, a professional level, will be fee-based, and will come with additional support. Currently, both levels are in beta. Sign-up for the beta is on-going.