is Google Voice !
Yes i must say i was addicted to using Skype for such a long time that i forgot to keep my eye on the balls of the Telecom world. I have noticed that my Skype credits were being used up faster than a scared rabbit. As my OH is in India this winter, we use Skype every day for a chin-wag. It is nothing to spend 20 or 30 minutes per call for which Skype often eats about £2 to £3 of my credits. I’m thinking that since Skype was bought by Micro$oft they have been inflating their call charges, hence my need to look again.
Ok, one of my prior posts did review Bistri as a telecoms provider, though in practice, their user experience left something to be desired. Little did i know that Google have been beavering away on a gadget to allow voice and video from our Google Chrome browser. Cannot say if it works in other browsers, more anon.
For Google Voice to work, i needed two pieces of hardware : 1) a microphone and 2) speakers. Ok, well my trusty Apple MacBook has both build in, so i did not need to add further kit. No doubt, an auxiliary headphone/mircophone will work just as well. If you are a Skype user, you probably already have this kit.
All we need now is the bit of software that connects the hardware, thru the browser to the Google infrastructure. This driver can be downloaded from here: https://www.google.com/chat/video and installed in the normal way.
The next time i fired up my Google browser, there was a new bit of technology in the lower left corner of the screen. See that small icon like a folder ? If you click that, it should open a larger panel above it like this :
Then you’ll see two icons of a telephone and to the right of it, a video cam. To start a voice conversation, click the telephone icon. This should open a new panel bottom right that looks like a typical telephone number dialer.
Ok, from here, we can key the telephone number of choice, or click the flag symbol to pick the country dialing code if you know it. Then click the CALL button to start your call.
I have not found a feature like skype that offers a list of contacts and their numbers, but no doubt that will arrive soon. The number entry panel does offer a redial feature so if you start to enter a number that you’ve already dialled previouly, you’ll see a dropdown of other numbers you’ve dialled, and from there you can pick a number for auto-completion.
There is nice feature, i stumbled on by accident that offers a neat calling history with charges per call. There is a small down-arrow just after the current balance which, if clicked, will open a small choice of features, one of which is History. If you click to review your billing history, you’ll see the panel below. You can also see where you can top up your call credits. i used Google Wallet feature to provide Google with their revenue.
Must say my call charges are MUCH lower. As you can see here my most recent 20 minute chat with the Frau has cost me the princely sum of 40 euro cents, much lower than ‘that other guy’. Au revoir Skype, long live Google Voice !