Following Apple’s costumer relations disaster of inexplicably rejecting the widely-anticipated Google Voice iphone app, Google bounced back with a slim-downed, mobile version of the Voice website.
The Good, the Bad, and the Potentially Catastrophic
The Good: The website is super-speedy and easy to use. On the 3g Network, pages take about 3 seconds to load. There’s even a convenient “quick call | sms” dialog box on the first page. Users can also listen to voicemail as a downloadable Quicktime audio file (a 30 second file took 6 seconds to download). Even more impressive, the website loads at the exact same speed without 3g enabled.
The Bad: First, I wasn’t able to record calls. Typically, Google Voice users can press “4” during a call to record conversations for later use. I expect this hiccup to be fixed in the near feature…but, for now, iphone road warriors without access to a traditional web browser will have to forgo the blackmail candy that is a recorded conversation.
Second, without 3g, Voicemails take about 30 seconds to download. While admirably quick, wait times could be frustrating for power users with dozens of voicemails to sort through.
Finally, I wasn’t able to resize the webpage, so users with poor, far-sighted vision will definitely have trouble viewing the tiny, default text size.
The Potentially Catastrophic: Google Voice has notoriously poor voicemail transcription. For giggles, I tested it out in a scenario where a message’s pinpoint accuracy would make the difference between elation and a heart attack.
I recorded: “Dan, we’ve had a wonderful relationship, I think it’s time we progressed.”
Google Voice transcribed: “Dan, we had a wonderful relationship, I think its time progress and”
While Google engineers may celebrate this minor deviation as an achievement, I’m sure it’d give any self-conscious lover a mild stroke, and could potentially lead to a not-so-fun follow up call. I have nightmare visions of love-struck iphone users reading poorly transcribed voicemails and swerving into oncommcing trafffic…
The Verdict: Overall, the Google Voice webapp is another solid Google product. Most users will hardly notice a difference between a native iphone app and the webapp alternative. Once again, Google takes the gold medal as a company with superior products and a commitment to the consumer (are you listening, Apple!?),
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