Google and Sprint just announced a tighter integration of the carrier phones and Google Voice service. In the terms, Sprint customer can keep their imageexisting phone number to make it a Google Voice number and new Sprint customer can port their GV number to be their next cellphone number.

Google Voice has been a great phone forwarding service with many virtues that are often hard to explain. The service focuses on:

  • Obtain a regular but virtual phone number for free that you keep with you as long as Google is in business. The soft GV number is independent from any other real phone numbers attached to it. This makes the cellphone number somewhat irrelevant.
  • You can program from Google Voice Web site so when people ring that number, it will forward the call to any other numbers of your choice.
    If you don’t pickup, voicemail subsequently will be transcribed to text (along with voice if you can’t decipher the transcript) and emailed to you. You can get additional services such SMS, call using Gmail, cheaper long distance, etc…

When it sounds simple, the service is also problematic in few areas:

  • Give to your friends a new number to call is a daunting task – But hopefully you can only endure one last time.
  • Outgoing calls you make will show your real cellphone number in callerID, this certainly confuses your friends. Google circumvents the latter with its own app that user can install on the smartphone. While it’s working well and flexible, the experience is not the same as native phone app.. Calls placed from a smartphone using this GV app will show the GV number in callerID as well as the ability to connect 2 phones. e.g, if my AT&T iPhone coverage is poor at home, I can still use GV app on the iPhone to call people, the app can ring my landline phone as well as the person I need to call.  

Partnering with Sprint to make the soft number, the real Sprint cellphone number would make the experience identical and even better to the native phone app along with additional GV functions, however it ties back the user to the cellphone carrier or ties back the soft number to a “real” number, which contradicts to the original design.

I enjoy using the independent GV number, mainly because I could change carrier and cellphone number at will and not impacting my phone system and I am also existing Sprint customer. I am wondering if this is enticing enough to make the switch?

This feature will be available soon to Sprint customers in the United States. Once it is launched, it will be rolled out gradually to all Google Voice users, and can be enabled through the Google Voice website. If you don’t see it right away, don’t worry—you can leave your email address and they notify you as soon as this becomes available.

[Source Google]

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