Has Google Lost its Voice

Ahh Google. Old friend, faithful ally, omnipotent ruler of the inter-web. For so long you’ve been infallible. You gave me Search when I used to surf. You bestowed Reader upon me when I finally found everything I wanted to see online.

You track my websites, you give me reports, you tell me when I’m late for meetings and you let me edit the work of my staff while they’re still writing it. I am forever in your debt. Truly.

Maps, YouTube, Webmaster Tools, Blogger, Chrome…Big G, you were on a roll. But then you hit us with Buzz and and my faith began to waver. And speaking of waver…Wave wasn’t such a hit either. Despite these lack lustre releases, when you announced Google Voice, I was thrilled.

Google Voice. Great…on paper

It looked like such a fantastic tool. One number for all your calls. Shared Voicemail? Cool! Calling from Gmail? Amazing! Google Voice promised to be everything that business communication had been lacking and more because it’s completely integrated with all the Google Apps we already use.

It even has a mobile App so when I first sat down and took a look over the Features of Google Voice you can see why I jumped out of my skin! Perhaps here at last was an opportunity to have a data-specific mobile device as well as a fully integrated business conferencing tool.

The applications seemed never-ending as well. Could I now send an employee to a trade show and have them live-conferencing about it all from the Gmail window of their Chrome browser?

It’s available on iPhone and Palm WebOS as well? So, in theory people could quite literally call me from the road as they’re driving across the country. In theory, Google Voice does all of this and more. It send texts to multiple users, it collates and tracks information. In future releases, it even promises to store all of this communication in one constant thread.

Can Google Voice be used for Business?

In the past month, two of my business partners have (for various reasons) been without mobile devices. Now, not being able to contact them hasn’t bothered me. Not being able to text, or call or anything in between them, nope, that’s fine. What has been excruciating to deal with is the un-listenable static that keeps coming through my cell phone when either of them gives me a call using Google Voice.

Snap. Crackle. Pop. #NewCommunicationToolForBusinessFail

You know that guy you saw in the corner coffee shop last week screaming into his cell phone that he can’t understand the person on the other end? That was me. And if you see him again, someone in his life who can’t be bothered to go get himself a new cell phone is calling him using Google Voice and he’s about to blow his stack.

I shudder to insult Google for fear of reprisal, but I’m sorry, I have not had one single positive encounter with Google Voice. It’s slow, the reception is poor, it chooses when it wants to send texts and when it doesn’t. In most circumstances it’s been impossible to determine who’s on the other end of the “phone”.

Can Google Voice be used for business? No. Nada. Not yet. Not even close…

Lose the Voice – Try These Apps Instead

Google Voice was supposed to be a big competitor as a real-world communication tool for business. But as of right now, it doesn’t stack up. If you’re making a quick call to a colleague using your computer, I would say that you’ll still be using Skype for the foreseeable future. It’s reliable for the most part and the quality of sound is pretty excellent.

For conference calling? Keep GoToMeeting in your business toolbox. It does everything Google Voice can only dream of and includes a host of tracking tools. It might not send SMS, but then, who uses SMS anymore? Neither of these tools is accessible from Gmail. But honestly, if Google Voice’s only major drawcard is that you don’t need to open a new program to access it, it’s not ready for the market.

What’s next for Google Voice?

Google Voice 2.0 will be a major improvement. How could it not be? Google won’t want another failure like this to be out there ruining it’s image as an open-source software giant. But as a business owner who has made every effort to use Google Voice in its current iteration, I have to strongly recommend against it for now.

Of course, the product is still a Beta version. So, like anything that’s a work in progress, let’s remain optimistic that the future will be brighter for Google Voice. Perhaps when ‘GV2’ finally arrives in your Gmail Inbox, it’ll be worth another glance.

What’s been your experience with Google Voice? Voice your support or condemnation by leaving a comment below. Thanks!