Talk to ten different people about Google Voice in Canada and you’ll get ten different responses. Some will say it’s great calling to Canada but are unable to call FROM Canada using the service with a regular phone. Others will brag and say they have full capability, even from their iPhone. Still others will say they’re unable to get a Canadian account at all. What’s going on?
The story really begins July 2, 2007 when Google announced their purchase of GrandCentral Communications to become what we now know as Google Voice. Canadians who had already signed on to GrandCentral and had linked a Canadian terminating number to their accounts were permitted to keep their accounts unaltered through the transition to Google. What this has caused is a limited number of Canadians being permitted to have a full Google Voice account TODAY.
NEW signups on Google Voice from Canada will be greeted with a notice stating the service is not yet available.
If you were one of those early adopters who does have a fully activated and Canadian linked account, you’ve already experience the joys of what Google Voice can do. Besides a great set of features such as free text messages, voice mail and voice mail transcription, the service offers you the ability to make calls to anywhere in North America for free. If you are a mobile subscriber with free incoming calls, the calls you initiate from Google Voice really are free – including local calls you would make within your own Canadian city.
The iPhone app which brings these features into harmony with a Canadian iPhone is GV Connect. Though a little shaky with “foreign accounts” when first released, the app has been updated and now brings the ability of not only fully accessing a Google Voice account, but also to initiate a call back to your device which in turn will connect a regular call to another North American regular phone number – at no charge whatsoever (as long as you have free incoming on your mobile plan).
I’m sure it’s all this “free phone connection” business which had Apple in a knot over Google Voice in the first place. The system does work and when Google Voice is fully released to all Canadians, more and more people will learn how much easier and cheaper it would be to initiate calls through the service and the “Canadian Google Voice Mess” will come to an end.
Let’s just hope Google will keep the service free.
I’m Robert Sanzalone (@pacificIT), a new contributor at iPhone in Canada and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Cheers!