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Google Voice Opens To All 185

An anonymous reader writes "Google Voice is now open to anyone in the US, removing the need to search for an invite. At the Google Voice site, anyone with a US IP address and a US phone number can sign up for an account. Non-US IPs are blocked, and non-US-based phone numbers are prevented from attaching to Google Voice (with the single odd exception of the 403 area code of southern Alberta)." Good timing on the part of Frontier Communications Corp., which just filed a lawsuit claiming that the Google Voice feature connecting a user's home, work, and cell phone numbers to another number infringes one of their patents.
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Google Voice Opens To All

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  • WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by linhares ( 1241614 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:33PM (#32658640)
    since when US=ALL?
    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Funny)

      by 7213 ( 122294 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:34PM (#32658664) Homepage

      Roughly, the end of WWII. Or if you're lazy, we'll just call it 1950.

    • Exactly!

    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Funny)

      by Kitkoan ( 1719118 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:39PM (#32658736)

      since when US=ALL?

      Reminds me of that joke about the UN poll.

      Last month, a world survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was: "Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world." The survey was a huge failure...

      Africa they didn't know what "food" meant.

      Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant.

      Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant.

      China they didn't know what "opinion" meant.

      the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant.

      South America they didn't know what "please" meant, and

      the USA they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.

      • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bernywork ( 57298 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [notelpatsb]> on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:12PM (#32659128) Journal

        Apparently the Australians hung up when they heard the indian accent....

      • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

        If you see someone claim UN is "united nations" so, it is international, just ask where the HQ is located.

        It pisses them off, even diplomats.

    • For quite a while as far as I had noticed.

      I thought it was rather funny actually.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by pete-classic ( 75983 )

      Allow me to introduce you to the concept of "context". This is a US-based, and US-centric site. Surely you can understand this.

      Here's another example from Auntie Beeb []. Am I meant to gather that all women around the world can obtain contraceptives from UK National Health Service? Of course not. Context. Learn about it. Live it. Love it.


      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by value_added ( 719364 )

        This is a US-based, and US-centric site. Surely you can understand this.

        No need to shout. You could have said "It's all about us".

        Or something like that. ;-)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by linhares ( 1241614 )

        Allow me to introduce you to the concept of "context". This is a US-based, and US-centric site.

        Allow me to introduce you to the concept of "context". This is a US-based, and US-centric site, INSIDE the!, which connects us all. The web is the context. If you think slashdot isn't a "global" entity because of its history and server location, tell me why it is always talking about things like Ubuntu or thepiratebay or linux or skype or; well i could go on but laziness is also global.

        • Re:WTF (Score:5, Informative)

          by Pootie Tang ( 414915 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:18PM (#32659180)

          /. FAQ: []

          Slashdot seems to be very U.S.-centric. Do you have any plans to be more international in your scope?

          Slashdot is U.S.-centric. We readily admit this, and really don't see it as a problem. Slashdot is run by Americans, after all, and the vast majority of our readership is in the U.S. We're certainly not opposed to doing more international stories, but we don't have any formal plans for making that happen. All we can really tell you is that if you're outside the U.S. and you have news, submit it, and if it looks interesting, we'll post it.

          It is worth noting that there is a Japanese Slashdot run by VA Japan. While we helped them a little in their early days, they essentially run their own content without any real involvement from us... none of us can read Kanji! There are currently no plans to do other language or nation specific Slashdot sites.

      • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:07PM (#32659072)

        1) Slashdot has a significant number of users from other countries.
        2) Google is a multi-national corporation that provides most of its services to any country with Internet access that hasn't explicitly blocked them. The UK NHS isn't.

      • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ashridah ( 72567 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:18PM (#32659184)

        Allow me to introduce you to the concept of "context". This is a US-based, and US-centric site. Surely you can understand this.

        That, for some reason, keeps posting stories about Australia. Riiiight.

        • Re:WTF (Score:5, Funny)

          by schlick ( 73861 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @08:12PM (#32660182)
          We are Americans... Stories about Australia are kinda like watching the show Cops. []
        • Slashdot also regularly post stories about UK, and, occasionally, about all kinds of other countries out there. This doesn't mean that it's not US-centric - it just means that Americans (or rather, American geeks) are occasionally interested in some aspects of other countries.

          I understand getting offended when someone assumes that you personally are an American when replying to your comment on Slashdot, but whining about US-centric assumptions in TFA is pointless. Learn to live with it already (and use Goog

      • Re:WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:52PM (#32659514)

        Indeed. Complaining about Slashdot's US centric state is a bit like going to a friends house and complaining about what they cooked. They don't mind you hanging out, and they don't mind you taking part in dinner, but if you don't like what's being served - shut up or leave.

        • Re:WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Eth1csGrad1ent ( 1175557 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @11:31PM (#32661328)

          except Slashdot is commercial enterprise, so its more like going to a friend's restaurant and complaining about the food that you ordered and paid for. They don't mind you paying to hang out, and they don't mind selling you dinner, but if you don't like whats being served - shut up or leave.

          and hey... nothing says you can't do that.

          But I would point out that the tag line ISN'T "News for Nerds (in the US). Stuff that matters (to nerds in the US)", and furthermore, that the site is built on and sustained by commentary, submissions and content from people ALL OVER the globe.
          ie. this "by Americans, for Americans" is pure BS.

      • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

        by multi io ( 640409 ) <> on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @10:08PM (#32660914)

        Allow me to introduce you to the concept of "context". This is a US-based, and US-centric site. Surely you can understand this.

        The fact that Slashdot is a US-centric site is obviously totally unrelated to the question of why Google opened Google Voice to US internet users only.

        • by hitmark ( 640295 )

          could be a case of different laws in different nations.

          for instance, you cant get a skype-in number in norway because the land line numbers are area based, and assists emergency services to narrow down the callers location. Heck, i think there was some issues when voip services from telcos and isp's where being rolled out, as people took their voip phone with them on vacation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LingNoi ( 1066278 )

        Allow me to introduce you to the concept of "context". This is a US-based, and US-centric site.

        No it's not dude. Your example of context is a As much as you hate it slashdot is a world-centric site. The company that runs slashdot is US based and has nothing to do with anything.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hitmark ( 640295 )

        being any nation centric online, especially when using english, is in this day and age, futile.

      • (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

        Well, let them change the domain to and allow only USA/Canada IPs?

        Not like we (rest of the World) didn't get used to that kind of (Godwin) for a long time.

    • And while we're at it, the U.S. Open isn't *really* open...

    • since when US=ALL?

      It seems like you are just taking the use of the word out of context. If I say "everyone was at my party", it doesn't really mean everyone in existence, especially if the scope is clarified in the sentence after. I assumed that the word "all" wasn't meant to be taken literally or imply that the "US=ALL", but instead meant that the service was no longer invite only.

  • Worth it just for the shortened answering machine message. Say sayonara to the Long Winded Lady.
    • Worth it just for the shortened answering machine message. Say sayonara to the Long Winded Lady.

      Also, I love the text messages with the (attempted) transcription of the incoming message. Even when it's mangled, it tells me whether my ex is calling to tell me something important, or if she's just going to tell me the latest gossip about people I'm not related to any more (her, for example).

      And the failed transcriptions are sometimes hilarious. My son likes to call up and leave a message just to see what Go

      • This is actually in my google voice voicemail list:

        Don't call me back. Give me a call back. I'm just trying to see. Well I just want to try to grab a spouse from. Ohh. It's Jeff, It's or anything, so if you get that restriction. I'm not sure but school work it out. Thanks. Bye. Yeah. Yeah. Yes, that's it. Yeah bowl last night, okay hello. I don't later bye and okay. Yeah, the boys are okay. Okay bye. Will there. Bye. So yeah. But bye our, well, but alright we are on a shirt this chill. Yes, all yeah cool. S

        • The sad thing is, I kind of understood parts of that.

          Still, when will Google just admit that they are trying to solve an impossible problem, and allow the option of transcription straight to IPA? With IPA, at least I can muddle through it and try to figure out what it means. With an attempted full English transcription, I get gibberish that I have to mentally translate back into an intermediate form, and then try to guess at what it is supposed to mean. Extra levels of indirection just make it harder, no

  • by jalano ( 309339 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:34PM (#32658662)

    Google Voice has one critical flaw, and that is it has an inherent "processing delay" that it introduces into the voice path.

    The delay is slightly longer than the delay most cell phones have talking to another cell phone. When you add the Google Voice delay in, it's almost an unbearable 1/3 to 1/2 a second.

    I've used it from my land line calling calling out because of the free calling feature, and for that the delay is tolerable. But I can't justify having it forward to my cell phone because if anyone calls me from a cell phone, the combined lag makes the conversations really hard to have.

    • by J-1000 ( 869558 )

      But I can't justify having it forward to my cell phone because if anyone calls me from a cell phone, the combined lag makes the conversations really hard to have.

      The good news is everyone will continue to call you back with whatever pops up on their caller ID (your cell phone number) despite your best efforts to coach them all into using your GV number.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sancho ( 17056 ) *

        You can call Google Voice to initiate a call. You can also (with most cell phones) program your address book with delays between digits. Between these two, you should be able to call from your GV number.

      • by caseih ( 160668 )

        If you can get them to text you once, it sets up a semi-permanent hashed phone number that you can not only text back to, but also call. Then they'll always see it as coming from your GV number. I do this all the time and it works great. I usually add the GV hash phone number to my address book as a secondary number. Just choose that when placing the call.

      • The good news is everyone will continue to call you back with whatever pops up on their caller ID (your cell phone number) despite your best efforts to coach them all into using your GV number.

        The better news is that if you have an Android phone (and some other non-Android phones I think), you can select which number is used to return calls. On my G1, I have the option of (a) always using my cell number to return calls, (b) always using my GV number to return calls, (c) always being offered a prompt asking me which to use, and (d) having option a set but hitting the GV app "button" to make a call through GV anyway.

        Apparently, it's supported as an app on at least Android and Blackberry phones (w

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I've been with this beta since the first invites were sent out and have never experienced a lag. But then again, I stopped using it for voice since it's redundant when using a cell phone. I still lose minutes with or without it. Free text messaging with archive seems to be the best feature, as transcribing hasn't worked for me in a while and when it did, it didn't work very well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sancho ( 17056 ) *

        I started out using my number as a throwaway. Gave it to companies who I didn't trust with my real number in cases where I needed to have them contact me quickly. The blacklist feature was what really sold me on it. The SMS was just a nice bonus.

        Then I started using the number more and more, and eventually it just became my default number. I gave it out to all my friends and never looked back.

        I've noticed the lag, too. It manifests, in practice, by both parties trying to start talking at once, stopping

    • I tried out Google Voice for a while. I had given all my friends the number, but they still had my direct numbers. I received an awful lot of comments that calls to Google Voice would usually go to voicemail, or like you said, there would be an unreasonable lag in the conversation.

      I compared my cell phone call log to the Google Voice log. I missed an awful lot of calls, where my cell never rang. I even test called myself from a few different phones, and the majority of the

      • Google Voice seems to call numbers in the order they were provided to them. At least in my experience. That means longer delays the lower on the list you go. Meaning, if you didn't provide your cell phone as the first number, which already has extra delays, and doubly so if its a first generation Android device, chances are all the delays add up long enough you will miss calls. Delete all your numbers. Add back your cell phone. Then add the numbers in order you're most likely to be reached.

        On first generati

    • I stil use a circa-2001 cell phone on t-mobile and 100% of my calls are through google-voice (both incoming and outgoing), been using it since it was grandcentral, and I haven't experienced an excessive delay. Now most of my calls are through Ooma's VOIP but I still occasionally use the cell phone too.

  • Because the notion of call forwarding is novel and has never been thought of/implemented before...
    • by Z34107 ( 925136 )

      Google Voice does a lot more than just call-forwarding, although having one call ring any or all of your phones is pretty nifty. You get voicemail with adequate transcription (you can get your voicemail messages e-mailed to you), free text messaging, blacklists, incoming call recording, call routing (these people automatically get my cell, these automatically go to voicemail), free US+Canada long distance, cheap international calling, and a "call me" widget you can throw on a website that lets people call

      • by jaymz666 ( 34050 )

        for some reason voice mails for me never get transcribed. some are from overseas (australia) and some domestic. I don't know why

        • by Z34107 ( 925136 )

          Try going under settings, voicemail & text, and seeing if the "Transcribe Voicemails" box got unchecked. If it's checked and you don't see your inbox being transcribed for you, there's definitely something weird going on.

          • by jaymz666 ( 34050 )

            Wow, obvious. And it was unchecked. not sure how that happened. I should have checked myself, but didn't.


  • Gizmo5 (Score:2, Insightful)

    I want VoIP! Give it to me Google!
    • Well, i have it now but if i so much as sneeze on my plan it will dissimilar in to the AT&T ether.. If you have to pay for data use, *and* cell minutes, what the point of voip other then security?

      • No, not "dissimilar", should have been "disappear"

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by HereIAmJH ( 1319621 )

        If you have to pay for data use, *and* cell minutes, what the point of voip other then security?

        I've been waiting for Gizmo to open up again so that I can set up an account for my VOIP desk phone. I couldn't care less if my cell phone can do VOIP, but I haven't had a land line at home for a decade and it would be nice to have an ISP neutral option for SIP.

  • On patents... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:55PM (#32658952)

    I have the impression its impossible to do anything in this country without infringing on some patent somewhere.

  • by eudaemon ( 320983 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @05:57PM (#32658972)

    Grandcentral had consensus-based call filtering; numbers flagged by enough people as undesirable got added to a blacklist anyone could subscribe to and Google took it out, which is a shame. Google voice still has trouble turning off some call presentation features - for instance pressing "4" to toggle call recording. Every time you receive a call from an automated system that requires a 4 as input GV just eats the digit. They also removed SIP call handling for anyone but Gizmo 5, another damn shame. Having said that, it is free except for international calls and those are pretty cheap.

    On the upside they already handle texting, making those $20/mo unlimited texting plans redundant. Now we just need EU-like cell plans where "caller pays" and we'd be all set - you can complete google voice calls as inbound to yourself via the mobile and full web pages. Oddly the Android client doesn't offer this feature.


    • by nazsco ( 695026 ) on Wednesday June 23, 2010 @01:04AM (#32661724) Journal
      1. No way to input digits in any system
         (office conferencing, home banking, etc)

      2. A HUGE delay in SMS.
          messages may arrive instantly, or take up to 12hours.
         (using the google voice app on the nexus one. can't get more compliant than this)

      3. Broken SIP support
         (can be worked around if you happen to have a Gizmo account from last century. no way to get one now)

      4. Call recording is only if you receive the call.
         (both ways are legal/ilegal in most country. but they decided to do evil and predict the law anyway)

      5. Still broken as hell for domains.
         (you just get a broken gwt ui. no content. no way to get a number now for your domain account. great way to recompensate for loyalty)
  • by ( 1265320 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:25PM (#32659244) Homepage
    the patent in question was []

    which unless I'm HIGHLY mistaken was filed on 09/01/2009, well AFTER google voice was developed and released into beta. PRIOR ART MUCH?
  • I've been using Google Voice as an SMS-email relay to remotely control appliances []. Glad more people will have the option of doing the same!
  • ".....single odd exception of the 403 area code of southern Alberta."
    Add 808 to that exception...

  • by SethJohnson ( 112166 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @06:49PM (#32659488) Homepage Journal

    I love Google Voice. I use it for my company.

    Two tips:
  • AT&T introduced a follow-me service that (top of my head) covered most or all of the patent claims in 1996, probably at least as much as Grand Central does.
  • I think Frontier forgot to mention Call Forwarding in their patent application. The fact that call forwarding has been around for over 30 years within the communications industry seems to make me again wonder what the patent office is for, definitely not for reviewing patent applications thats for sure. I remember conjoining my mobile. home number and work number on a NEC pabx way back in the late 80's ffs, yes that is what call forwarding is.
  • Google Voice still needs work. They seem to have a terrible time getting some cell phone operators to recognize Google Voice numbers, and there are constant complaints about SMS messages not getting through to some numbers. Part of the problem is that Google isn't a real telco, and they don't participate as a carrier in the North American Numbering Plan. They rent their blocks of numbers from third party small carriers, which sort of works most of the time.

  • how is this different to using gtalk with a microphone? I've been using it on my n900 to make voice calls to my brother's n900 for a while now... or does google voice allow you to dial a traditional phone number?
  • by Whuffo ( 1043790 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @09:07PM (#32660532) Homepage Journal

    I've been using Google Voice (previously Grand Central) for years. It's been great to have a stable phone number - home phone or cell phone numbers may change but just tweak the configuration and your Google Voice number is still good. It's worth much more than the price (free) for just this. But there's more!

    When AT&T couldn't figure out how to sign me up for home phone service I started looking into VOIP service - I wanted something with a normal looking and acting telephone that didn't require a computer to work. Gizmo5 provided the answer; they provide standard SIP service which is compatible with numerous SIP phones. With Google Voice forwarding to my Gizmo5 SIP line I've got the best of both worlds - free incoming calls and 1 cent per minute for outbound calls to anywhere in the US, Canada and the European Union. I've been using this setup for over 8 months now and it works great - very good call quality and very reliable service. My total phone bill for those 8 months is just under four dollars.

    Gizmo5 has been closed to new accounts for months now so those who wish to follow in these footsteps will have to wait. And I suspect there's going to be a lot of legal challenges before this is available to all; with good SIP phones (I'm using some Grandstream phones and they're OK) it's almost indistinguishable from AT&T service and many of the features you'd pay extra for from AT&T are free. This will severely impact AT&T's business - as well as the cable companies, Vonage, Magic Jack, etc. who are selling VOIP service at a big profit. The lawsuits should start flying soon and it's going to be interesting to see how those big operators state their case when everyone sees that they're selling very little more than nothing.

    Google Voice and Gizmo5 together is powerful stuff and it's going to shake the telecommunications industry from top to bottom when this is available to everyone. I wonder how far away that day will be...

    • by darrylo ( 97569 )
      Meh, I hope google fixes gizmo's uber-borked billing system. A while back, I tried to buy gizmo5 minutes (just $10), but they refused to sell me any. I think I tried 2 or 3 different credit cards, but gizmo5 kept on cancelling the orders, with the lovely reason, "Cancelled". I'm a US citizen, in the US, with good credit, and I've never had a problem like that (Skype came the closest, with their silly "one account == one credit card" rule). As much as I would have liked to have used gizmo, they didn't wa
  • by bihoy ( 100694 ) * on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @09:32PM (#32660690)
    There certainly seems to have been other instances of prior art, though I do not know what actual patents existed. Wildfire 1.0 [] was released on October 19, 1994 and provided many of the same features.

    "Wildfire smooths the process of completing calls and helps you be more available to callers. The system does a good job of identifying callers, so you spend much less time than before tapping numbers into the dialpad or looking up information in your Filofax or PIM. For example, the informed call waiting feature asks callers to speak their name, then plays that in your ear only (regardless where you're calling from) so you can decide what to do. If you ignore the call, Wildfire takes a message. If Wildfire identifies the caller by recognizing the name, she can take further action."

  • On behalf of all us Canadian four-oh-three-ers. Do you think you could call a little more attention to that fortuitous glitch? Maybe Google didn't hear you.
  • For very limited definitions of "for all".

  • 403? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Mr Z ( 6791 ) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @11:43PM (#32661374) Homepage Journal

    You mean, 403 is not forbidden? []

  • ...US phone number/IP needed. So I'm not part of the "all" subset.
  • Yeah, i know you have it in the body text - but don't lie to people in the subject - it doesn't open to ALL - it opens to americans. Humpf

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.