And it’s the coolest thing in the world. Dr. T and I got the inside skinny about pre-invites (to the nerdiest party in the world), signed up, and then, this Friday, it happened: the launch of the most exciting app since GMAIL–Google Voice.
In the non-geek media world, most people’s first reaction to Google Voice was exactly the same as their first reaction to Gmail or Google Docs (*actually, it’s still most people’s reaction to Google Docs, but more on that in a minute*) …wow, that sure sounds cool, but I’ve already got a cell phone/iPhone/Blackberry/office-line. In an era when we’re all biologically invloved with our communication devices, being able to receive all your calls in the same place with digital tracking might sound redundant/horrible. The market for cheap international calls is still largely the domain of Skype, and digitized calling-cards make Google Credits even more dubious as business propositions go. Fortunately, we’re already perverting the system. As always, the coolest thing about a new Google app isn’t what it’s programmed to do, but what users actually do with it.
If you’re like us (young, over-educated and underemployed) you’re probably living on the fringes of the legitimate world, always scraping together another scheme. Dr. T is starting a business, and I’m constantly freelancing. Unfortunately, out area-codes don’t always match our ambitions. Think nobody’s reading into your prefix? Well, they are. Case in point: ever tried to work in New York City with a California (###)? Even sources wrinkle their noses at some out-of-city digits. And editors? Fuggetabout it.
But selling stories is small potatos compared to seeking $M’s worth of funding for a clean-energy startup. Selling Silicon Valley with San Fernando Valley extension? Callers immediately know it’s a cell, and worse, they know you’re too young or too broke to have a local number. Or at least, they used to know it.
Google Voice doesn’t just allow you to manage your analog conversations in a digital format. It also lets you chose your number (or at least, your area-c0de), sort of like a telephonic pseudonym. Do a lot of business in Atlanta? Sign up in time and you can receive calls (and dial out with your smart phone) from a 404. Not only are you more accessible to persnickety public organs, like schools and others notoriously adverse to dialing out, you’ve got the pale of legitimacy to new local contacts. For the Dr. and I, our (###) always belied how long we had lived in a particular place and how much we really knew about it. I’m stoked to see where other creative types take the newest app in the Google family, even as the tide of approval may be turning for the company.
Now if only I could figure out how to save old txts to my computer…