Tuesday, 25 January 2011

I’ve been a Google Voice (and before that GrandCentral) user for a few years now. It’s a terrific service that provides One Phone Number to Rule Them All, so to speak. You can associate multiple different phone accounts (land, mobile, satellite, whatever suits you) with one Google Voice number and can change them at any time. So, anyone can dial or send text messages to your Google Voice number, and you control which phones ring and when, and where your text messages go.

Today Google announced that they are offering a service for $20 that allows you to port your existing mobile phone number to Google Voice, which means you can start using GV without having to take on a whole new phone number. That’s a great thing when you want to avoid the hassles of getting people to start using a new number.

But there are a few things you should know before you make this move, so you can be sure it’s for you.

Google Voice supports most – but but not all – of the features you have on a typical mobile/smart-phone plan. Certainly you will be able to receive calls, get voice mail, and send/receive text messages (especially on Android with the awesome GV app).

There are, however, a few common mobile features that are not supported by Google Voice:

  • Multi-media Messaging Service (MMS): If you like to send video, picture or audio messages to your friends and family, Google Voice can’t do this. I regularly have to tell people trying to send me their video or picture to send it to my email or my actual cell phone number provided by the carrier (which I don’t give out – that would defeat the whole purpose of Google Voice). So, if MMS and one number if critical for you, you should wait until GV gets around to supporting this.
  • Calls to your Google Voice number are not counted as calls to a mobile number for the purpose of mobile carrier call plans. So mobile-to-mobile minutes won’t get accounted for in the same way.
  • With a couple of exceptions, calls you make from phones attached to you Google Voice account will not show up on called ID as having come from your Google Voice number. The exceptions to this are when calls are initiated through the GV web app (in which case Google’s systems dial you up on your phone then connect you to the person you’re dialing) and a few of the GV mobile apps like the ones for Android and iPhone. The Android app actually builds itself into the Android OS’ dialing system and it’s truly seamless. On the iPhone you need to dial using the Google Voice app.
  • For text messages to be sent to mobile phones and for them to appear as coming from your GV account phone number, they need to be sent through the GV service, too. This means using the Google Voice interface on Android OS (which you can set as your text messaging default, by the way), via the iPhone app, etc., or from the most useful Google Voice web app interface mentioned earlier. I use the web app all the time for text messaging from my computer browser. But it’s different, so you need to realize that.
  • Text messages sent by applications and to/from short message codes (like Skype, your bank, etc.) don’t work.

That said, Google Voice is a terrific service that lets you have one phone number that can ring and deliver messages across several other phones. I use two Google Voice numbers – one I give out as my home phone and the other is for work calls. If I am working from my home office, both numbers cause my home phone to ring, but no one actually knows the number of my home phone – they just know the GV number that I gave them. If I move or far whatever reason change hone phone or work or cell phone numbers, I don’t have to worry about telling anyone. I just change the associated numbers in my Google Voice account. If I am on vacation somewhere across the country for a few days and want calls made to my home GV number - but only from my family members - to ring a phone number at my friend’s house, but only after 8am and before 11pm, and not during the next two hours because I want to get a nap… Google Voice can do that for me, too. It’s really quite powerful and easy to set up.

You can set schedules for different phones, and having a complete history of every call, voice mail and text message available in the browser app is really very nice. If any of the phone numbers associated with the different phones you have connected to your GV account and number should change in the future, there’s no need to tell the world. The people you know can just keep dialing your GV number, and in the background you can change that number that AT&T gave you back in the day when you got your first iPhone and point it at your new Verizon number. Hey, I’m just sayin’...

More information about porting numbers and Google Voice in general can be found at:



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Android | Apple | Mobile | Tech
Tuesday, 25 January 2011 13:43:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Earlier today, I was working in my home office and using my iPad alongside my computer. I started a download to update some app data on the iPad, which was fully charged at the time, and went back to my computer to do work-related stuff.

A couple hours later I went back to the iPad and pressed the home button to try to wake it up, with no response. I tried the wake/sleep/power button, same lack of response. Thinking it might be a dead battery (but wondering how that could happen in such a short period of time) I plugged it into the charger and left it there. Normally that would result in some screen activity if the battery had died, but after a couple hours on the charger the iPad was still dead.

After several minutes of futzing around with the iPad on and off the charger, and pushing every button on the iPad, I remembered a button combination that's used to execute a power reset and boot the iPad into recovery mode.

So, I did that combo, holding the Power/Sleep and Home buttons down at the same time for around 15 seconds while the iPad was on the charger. Sure enough, the iPad restarted and fired right up normally. It had a partial charge (about what you'd expect for the amount of time it had been running on battery before it died) and WiFi was disconnected, but after reconnecting to my WiFi network things were all back to normal.

Hopefully this saves someone a trip to the Apple Store or a call to the fine folks at Apple Support.



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Apple | Mobile | Tech
Wednesday, 12 January 2011 19:53:39 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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