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July 30, 2010, 4:55:45 AM
Right about now, I imagine my pals at Google are a tad annoyed with me. When answering their survey today, "What do you like best about Google Voice? What do you like least about Google Voice?", they got an earful -- and a portion of it was my comparison of Google Voice au naturel vs. Google Voice augment by Voice Mac ;-)


What do you like best about Google Voice?

:::The Google Voice features I like and use most often:

(1) Text messages and emails alerting me to missed calls.

(2) The ability to send text messages and make calls via my laptop, using the GV interface, and having those calls/messages appear to the receiver as my GV number rather than my celfone's assigned number.

(3) The ability to make calls from my celfone via the GV "switchboard", and having those calls appear to the receiver with my GV number rather than my celfone's assigned number.

(4) The Google Voice number itself: I was one of the lucky early adopters, so I was able to select exactly the number I wanted to represent me and my business.

(5) A "shielded" phone number that is mine for life and easily tied to any of my phones and phone numbers.

(6) Having a "surrogate switchboard" I can alter within a minute or two as circumstances dictate gives me the ability to personally customise the management of incoming calls with individualised greetings or handling.

>>By the way, it is important to note I also run "Voice Mac" 5.2 by Mr. Gecko ( from the dock of my Powerbook G4 (Mac OS X 10.4.11, Safari 4.1 (4533.16)).

Reasons I use "Voice Mac" to supplement Google Voice:

(A) I =profoundly= appreciate its quick, auto-loading alerts notifying me of new communiques TWO ways, (i) visually, with a bright red number inset to the Voice Mac icon, indicating how many missed/unread calls/texts I have; (ii) aurally, with an alert tone (several tones to choose from, ergo, it's possible to have separate tones set for voicemails and message alerts).

(B) A separate, always-open, scrollable Contacts window displaying my complete directory, all their phone numbers, their individual icons, plus offering me simple push-button choice for texting or calling them.

(C) A threaded conversation window for texts, with a choice of color themes/fonts and including sender and recipient's icons: an elegant solution for business and family conversations that may run the full course of a day =and= doesn't auto-collapse parts of the conversation, but becomes scrollable. Vital!

(D) An optional "Information" window with tabs for history of SMS, Voicemail, and Placed, Received, and Missed Calls. Click on the SMS tab, for example, and I can see up to 18 individual texts, who I was corresponding with, a six to ten word preview of the text, and date/time of the message.

(E) There are many other valuable features, including setting a preference of whether I want my contacts drawn from Mac Address Book or Google Contacts.

(F) Finally, the "feature" I find most valuable about Mr. Gecko's "Voice Mac" app is the author's responsiveness. Unlike the oft-elusive Google-ites, when a user experiences difficulties with one of his twelve applications, Mr. Gecko follows up in a timely, positive, manner, despite continuing to develop new apps, going to school, and attending to personal matters with his family and church. <<

::: What do you like least about Google Voice?

The features I like and use most often are also the tools that have proved most frustrating or disappointing:

(1) Text messages and emails alerting me about a missed call are =often= delayed by several minutes. This has frequently led to confusing conversations, especially when I'm doing fieldwork, don't have access to my laptop, and I return a call to someone because I see the "Missed Call" indicator on my celfone but have no message. "Didn't you listen to my message?" "Uh, no. There wasn't one!" -- one or both of us end up aggravated or feeling like idiots.

(2) If I have a voicemail pending, I'm unable to complete a dial-out call from my celfone via G-Voice until I listen to the unheard voicemail, whether it's from the person I'm calling or anyone else. Only after I've listened to the pending voicemail and filed/trashed/replied to it, am I able to dial out so my GV number will be displayed. This glitch adds as much as 5-7 minutes to what should be a simple dialed call

(3) The dial-out process necessary so the recipient of my call will see the Google Voice number and not the number of the phone I'm calling from (almost always from my cell phone), is circuitous and takes wayyyyy too long, despite the fact I've automated every possible step of the procedure with various speed-dial features built into my phone and the GV account itself.

(4) The transcripts continue to be the source of much hilarity. And yes, before you ask, I have submitted EVERY transcript of dubious quality to help you tweak improvements into the system. If I relied solely on the transcripts, I'd be calling my mum back about "tanning stands" instead of "dinner plans"! (She enunciates the King's English perfectly and in a well-modulated voice; I've never dared show her the Google Voice Manglish.)

(5) Don't like the new "operator" voice announcing the Google Voice instructions. She sounds like a hick.

(6) Because I have many long text conversations with colleagues, clients, and family members that can and do run the full course of a day, and because it is always necessary to refresh one's memory of where we are and where we need be in the conversation, I am perpetually irritated by the auto-collapsing "'X' more messages" when a conversation is in progress. I'd prefer to be given some kind of choice for these occasions -- e.g., (i) a setting that allowed me to opt in or out of the collapsing of threads, or (ii) to pop out a separate window for a thread, and thereby indicating I don't want the system to summarize, collapse, or insert "Show Quoted Text" -- just show me the FULL thread.

Wanted you to know I'm talking you up down under Mr. Gecko!

Mr. Gecko
July 30, 2010, 5:15:01 AM
I still have lots planed for Voice Mac, including tabbed SMS, multiple people and group messaging, support for me to add more contact systems to it, less ram usage with contacts (As I'll be using a database so I can only get what's needed instead of everything at once.), loads of modifications I'm working on with YouView currently, and lots of other stuff. I even have a new idea of how to do the voice mail so it looks nice and you can get the full text of the transcript (Like you explained you can't rely on the transcript alone.) But anyway, I have loads of ideas and I first need to get done with fixing YouView and then I can continue to make the quick startup management system which may take less than a day. So yeah, loads of stuff planed.

Thanks for the support,
Mr. Gecko

July 30, 2010, 7:35:07 PM
Woot! Woot!

You rock, Mr. Gecko!!!!!

One thing I omitted from the Google Voice survey (but hopefully they'll pick up on since I mentioned what OS I use), is another factor I appreciate about your apps: most of them,and particularly Voice Mac -- are compatible with OS X 10.4.11.

Sure, I'd love to stop paying the rent and eat beans and hardtack for three months to afford a shiny new Apple complete with crisp state-of-the-art OS X (Snow Leopand and beyond!), but given present economic realities, that's a non-runner.

Meanwhile, my faithful Powerbook Tiger, tweaked out with creations like yours, augmented by a firm grasp and regular use of cloud computing, and undergirded with added memory, an external HD, a plethora of general and industry-specific apps, mini-apps, widgets, and utilities I've discovered, researched, and trust, may lack the flashy roar of Snow Leopard, but it keeps me productive and creative and gets the job done, often in less time and with higher quality than my competitors. (Okay, okay, that's also due to the fact I'm brilliant at what I do.)

Long way 'round the shrubbery to say this: I am thankful for people like you, Mr. Gecko, and the authors and creators of all the other "toys" my Tiger plays with nicely. (I Thessalonians 1:2)

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