I have been using Grand Central since December 2006. When it was announced I thought it was the perfect idea that solved most of the issues I had with multiple phone numbers that I have been trying to solve since 1996! Grand Central had great promise but two issues I had with it prevented it from being the solution I wanted it to be. The first issue was simply the quality of the calls recieved via Grand Central. For me at least the performance was hit or miss. I couldn’t rely on it as my main inbound phone number because I got burned so many times by call quality issues. The other issue I had was that Grand Central required you to press 1 once you picked up a call. The options it offered (1 to answer a call, 4 to record, and other options to send to Voice Mail or listen in on the VM) were nice, but 99% of the time I pressed 1 to answer the call. On a smart phone such as my iPhone it was a pain to find the virtual keypad and press one. It was even worse if I was using a headset. They never offered an option to turn off that requirement to press an number when you answered a call, until now.

Google bought Grand Central what seems like ages ago and nothing ever happened with the service. I was happy to keep using my Grand Central number as the default number I gave out when signing up for something or to a doctors office, the pharmacy, etc but I still used my mobile number as the main number I gave out. Recently at work I started using Grand Central as my main contact number and my mobile as my backup since I move around allot but people still get my mobile to reach me on. This week Google announced the release of Google Voice, aka the relaunch and upgrade of Grand Central. I patiently waited until my account told me I can upgrade to the new Google Voice. So far I am very impressed. My major technical issue regarding having to always press the keypad to start a call has been resolved. I now have the option of turning that off, so I did. I also liked the SMS functions, and the ability to leverage my existing GMail contacts. The transcribe feature is nice, but just bells and whistles to me for now.

I am hoping that the quality of the calls are consistent with the new Google Voice. If they are, it is an almost perfect solution for me. I look forward to using it more over the next few weeks to put it through its paces. It took google a while to get this update out, but so far it seems worth the wait!

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