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The blogged wandering of Robert W. Anderson

GMail as a Skype replacement? Nope . . .

Over the last couple of months I have started to rely on Google Voice (GV) and have been eagerly awaiting the integration of VOIP with Google Voice.  My current solution of using GV with Skype is almost perfect, but I am hoping that Google VOIP can eliminate the pesky “where’s my voicemail” problem with Skype.

Anyway, this new Google feature was enabled on my account yesterday.  While it holds some promise for me once GV is moved into GAFD, it has too many caveats today.  Why?

Because the in-browser VOIP phone is a flawed premise for receiving calls:

  • Hunting for the incoming call dialog within a browser tab is a terrible user experience.  Perhaps they can fix this through an extension that allows a non-modal, “always on top” popup for notification of incoming calls. 
  • What if your browser stops working, is restarted, etc?  You don’t get your phone call.  Of course, you can say the same thing for the Skype client (i.e., if it isn’t running you don’t get your call), but I restart my browsers several times a day.  And browsers crash a lot more than Skype (or Google Talk), for that matter. 

Google really should resuscitate the Google Talk client – or the Google Voice Desktop App – and enable the same functionality there.  In fact, I’ll go further and say that they will have to release a native Windows client if they want enterprise adoption of GV / VOIP.

Granted, the in-browser premise is great for the casual user, making outgoing calls, or as a backup when away from your actual work environment, but it just doesn’t work as a Skype replacement.

Does anyone know if the the GV Desktop App is actually dead?  The last reference I find to it is the Arrington post: Google Voice Desktop App Launch Delayed, May Be Scrapped.

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    Colin Steele wrote @ August 27th, 2010 at 9:04 am

I agree that better incoming-call notifications are a must. If you’re working in another window and have sound off (as most people in an office do), you have no way of knowing a call’s coming in.

And I’m glad to see I’m not the only one with the Skype “where’s my voicemail?” problem. I was thinking I’d configured my Google Voice wrong.

    Robert W. Anderson wrote @ August 28th, 2010 at 12:09 pm


The problem with the Skype VM seems to be on Skype’s side. There is no way to completely turn off voice mail there. It seems that Skype only forwards incoming calls if you are logged on, otherwise always goes to its own Voicemail. Some people have suggested that turning on the call screening (or call presentation) feature of GV solves the problem, but I don’t really want to screen my calls that way.


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