January 12, 2013
Google Integrates Voice In Contacts
A streamlined interface for Google Contacts is a welcome addition. It hopefully is one minor move towards a more robust messaging solution from Google.
Google Voice users can now send a text or initiate a call directly from Google Contacts in the browser instead of opening a new tab and interact inside the Voice web application.
By hovering over a contact’s number, an icon for texting or calling with one’s Google Voice account will appear. Just click that to initiate the desired action.
It looks as if Google is finally looking to simplify its contact management across many of its services. Currently contacts are spread around a variety of services, giving an inconsistent look across Gmail, Voice and Google+. Unfortunately this functionality is currently not available in Gmail – one must move to Google Contacts to get this.
With an improved Google Contacts interface it provides the opportunity to enter information and expect it to look similarly elsewhere.
Hopefully this goes farther. Google has all the components to build a powerful, cross-platform messaging service that would rival iMessage. The subtle power of Apple’s messaging service is how conversations can continue over wifi and across iOS and Macs. There are also no usernames to worry about – type in a phone number and your device already knows if they are an iMessage user.
Yet as with all of Apple’s products it is locked inside its ecosystem, working only across iOS. While this is certainly Apple’s prerogative, it can be an annoying limitation. Unlike MightyText, conversations started on your phone can only continue on an iPad if it is through iMessage.
Imagine this kind of seamless messaging service which would not incur SMS fees, yet available across mobile platforms and desktop browsers. It would offer a viable alternative that could for once and all allow users to ditch their texting plans.
For now though the minor update of a cleaner and more consistent contacts interface is a very welcome change. Yet as if often the case with Google’s product design small iterations are normally targeted towards a more substantial end result.
Image Credit: Google Voice