Google Voice has been offering plenty of new services lately, including adding a new missed call feature that will send out missed call notifications to your inbox or e-mail account.
Earlier this month, Google Voice in Gmail offered call screening, recording calls (with approval from the caller), switching calls between Gmail and other phones, and releasing a Google Voice extension for Chrome that can recognize a phone number on a Website and call it. What is Google doing?
Google has hyped the new services on its many blogs, but also says that the new services aren’t available on its enterprise software, Google Apps--at least not yet. But businesses can still use the consumer versions for free and gauge if the applications would work in an office setting.
So far, only Gmail’s new Priority Inbox, an electronic personal assistant that judges which e-mail is important and which is not by learning from your choices, is the only new service available (in beta) in Google Apps. It’s estimated the application could save someone a week of e-mail filtering time each year.
Although many observers are calling all the recent movement around Google Voice in Gmail a "convenience” rather than a game-changer, the truth is that if an employee is in front of a computer, be it laptop or desktop, they will now also be in front of and have use of a phone.
I used Google Voice in Gmail to make a few calls to family, a vet’s office, and a retail store, all the time looking up e-mail confirmations and other information needed for those calls. While many people are tied to smartphones, not every employee in your business is going to be gifted with one, and this gives some flexibility.
What would be great is if Google ever updates Google Voice for Gmail with all these services for its business-oriented Google Apps--supposedly by fall.
Have all of the free goodies in recent weeks just been a huge Google commercial? Or, is this simply Google’s way to enrich its users? It’s probably a little of both. The buzz about each new service or application keeps Google’s name out there and piques more interest.
More people partaking of the new services raises Google's user base and ad revenue. It also keeps Google Apps in the news, as it's soon to be the Internet giant’s new moneymaker--even if the stories just involve someone asking when it will have all that cool new stuff from Google.
Reach or follow Barbara E. Hernandez on Twitter @bhern.