I love Google Voice. In fact I love Google Voice to the point that I use it exclusively both online and IRL as my preferred contact number. The ability to selectively block numbers, the voicemail transcription, and the ability to send certain callers straight to voicemail make this service the perfect enhancement to my run-of-the-mill cell service.
The only thing missing, with Google Voice being an online service, is the seemingly obvious but not-yet-appearing ability to make and receive calls from more than just a cell or landline. Google Talk has given us the ability to make voice calls to other Gtalk users for years now, and with their 2009 acquisition of Gizmo5, it seemed a desktop app allowing users to make free calls to other phones via their home computers would be just around the corner. Techcrunch confirmed this last month when they produced video of what they claimed was the unreleased pc application.
Out of the shadows, and very much unexpectedly, VocalTec Communications Ltd., the company behind Magicjack, has announced it will be releasing just such a product this week. Called ‘MagicTalk’, it will allow users to make and receive unlimited calls to landlines and cell phones in the US and Canada free of charge from their desktop or laptop, and the company plans to release versions for the iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry platforms in September or October. Each user will be assigned a phone number, although the company will allow numbers to be ported in for a fee. Calls to international numbers will also be extra.
While I’m disappointed Google let a competitor get there first, I’m really excited about finally being able to make truly FREE and unlimited calls from my computer, allowing me to drop the $20 a year Magicjack subscription, and the quarterly $7.95 I was spending on a backup Skype calling subscription. Magicjack is fully compatible as a forwarding phone for Google Voice, so Paul and I may even be able to sort out a solution for our two personal accounts as well as him using one for business.
While I’m still anxiously awaiting Google’s desktop app, I will be happy to test out MagicTalk in the meantime and look forward to comparing the two services.