Google Voice for BlackBerry

Google Voice for BlackBerry

The brand new--and free--Google Voice app for BlackBerry just hit the Web yesterday, but's Al Sacco stayed up way past his bedtime last night tinkering with the software and associated service. Sacco's conclusion: The app's still rough around the edges but it adds invaluable functionality: the ability to "dial-out" and send text from your Google Voice number.

Google Voice for BlackBerry: Thumbs Up

There's a lot to like about the Google Voice for BlackBerry application. It's free. It's simple to use. It's very basic, so you're never bogged down with confusing menus or options. And it works as advertised; I was able to successfully send multiple texts and place calls from a number of phones yesterday via Google Voice.

These last features are the most valuable aspects of Google Voice for BlackBerry. To place calls using Google Voice, you open up your BlackBerry address book, scroll to the contact you want to call, hit the BlackBerry Menu key and choose Call Using Google Voice. (Note: The Google Voice app must be running to place calls via your BlackBerry address book.)

You can also initiate Google Voice calls via the app itself. Just click to open it, make sure you're on the "Dialer" menu and scroll down to the blank number field. Then just dial the digits you wish to call and hit your green Send key. You'll see a call initiation screen and you're then routed through a secondary Google number to the number you dialed. It's that simple.

Placing text messages works in the same way and is just as easy. Simply open up the Google Voice app or your BlackBerry address book, scroll over or type in the number you want to text, hit your BlackBerry Menu key and choose SMS.

You can also click over to the second section of the Google Voice app to send texts: the Inbox. Your inbox lists all current SMS conversations, along with recent voice mail details. For example, you can see when specific voicemails were left and callers' numbers--you can even view transcripts of messages and download and listen to them with just a couple of clicks. And text conversations are listed in threaded message format, so you can easily navigate past exchanges. (Note: The second Google Voice tab is set to "Inbox" by default, but you can change it to be voicemail- or sms-specific, as well as strictly for received or placed calls.)

The service also offers cool features like conference calling, low international calling rates, call screening and blocking and more. However, none of these features are specific to the BlackBerry or Android apps, so I won't get into much detail here.

Finally, Google Voice for BlackBerry uses "push" technology to alert you to missed calls and texts via icon "badges," which is a nice touch, though they're a bit redundant because you still get the default BlackBerry missed call and new text indicators.

On the other hand...

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