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“One number for life”

Posted by g3tech on June 27, 2007

A new FREE service, called GrandCentral, allows people to reach you any of your phones, with the use of a single number. So when someone calls your new number, all of your phones ring simultaneously. It’ll no longer require people to track you down by dialing all your numbers (work, cell, home…), this new service will find you, no matter which phone you’re with.

As a bonus, all messages now go to a single voice mail box. You can listen to your messages in any of two ways:

The first, you dial in from any phone (a text message arrives on your cell to tell you have a message), and pick up your messages. If you call in from your cell, you don’t even have to enter your password.

Or, you can listen to your messages online (at GrandCentral’s website) and download them as audio files to cherish forever and forever. You can also be notified by e-mail, that you have messages, and a link in the e-mail will take you online to play the messages.

This service is free, if you have two phone numbers. There is also a premium plan, which costs $15 USD, which offers more of everything: up to six phone numbers and voice messages kept forever (instead of 30 days with the free plan), and the features go on…

There’s two major downsides to joining GrandCentral: firstly, if they don’t have phone numbers for your location, then you might get an out-of-town number. (Hawaii and Maine have no phone numbers at all).

Secondly, after you get your new number, people will still be dialing your old numbers so you’ll have to check your old voice messages AND your new ones (GrandCentral links all your phone numbers to your new number but GrandCentral only checks voice messages, on your new number ONLY).

These may not be major downsides but it’s still a hassle. One, if they have no numbers in your area or if you get an out-of-town numbers or, two, if you have to constantly check your new voice message inbox AND all your old inboxes.

Here’s some of the more interesting features of GrandCentral:

Caller naming: Every person who calls is announced by name when they call (for example: “call from Brad Pitt”). How does it know their name? Sometimes it comes from caller ID. GrandCentral also knows every name in your online address book, which you can import (so you’ll have your contacts from Yahoo, Gmail or whatever e-mail program you use). Callers who don’t have a name, are asked to state their name the first time they call. On every call after this, GrandCentral remembers and recognizes them.

Listen In: For the first time in cellphone history, you can now listen to a message as someone is leaving it (just like most home answering machines). This is what happens: your phone rings and displays the person’s name (like it usually does), but when you answer it, a GrandCentral recording tells you the caller’s name and then offers you four options: 1) accept the call (you talk to the person), 2) send to voice mail, 3) listen in on voice mail or 4) accept and record the call (you talk to the person and it’ll record the conversation, which is pretty neat, especially if it’s, for example, an important business conversation or someone giving you driving directions). By the way, during all of this, the caller has no idea what’s going on, his phone is still ringing.

Ringback music: Popular with teens in Europe, it lets you replace the ringing sound the caller hears, while waiting for you to answer, with music (any MP3 of your choice)

Switch lines: Any time during a call, you can press a key, to make all of your phones ring again, so that you can pick up a different phone in mid-conversation, all the while, unknown to the person on the other end. For example, if your heading out the door, you can switch from a landline to your cellphone (or as you arrive at home, from your cell to your landline, in order to save your precious minutes).

Customize greetings: Possibly the most fun of all of GrandCentral’s features, this feature allows you to record a different message for each person in your address book. You can also tell GrandCentral to answer certain people’s calls with the classic “The number you have dialed is no longer in service” message. Ah, technology is so evil.

Phone spam filter: This just might be the most useful feature ever invented, GrandCentral keeps a database of telemarketers that is constantly updated by reports from its subscribers. Your phone doesn’t ring when a telemarketer, who is in the database, attempts to call you and sell you long distance.

Quick changes: With a quick click at GrandCentral’s site, you can have all your calls directed to voice mail when you don’t want to be bothered, or it can direct all calls to a new, temporary number (like a hotel) or it can prevent your home phone from ringing during work hours.

Web buttons: You can put a “call me” button on your website, which is a great way to get people from your MySpace, Facebook, eBay, or some dating site, to be able to call you without giving away your number.

As I said before, all these features are free, if you were to get them from your phone company they’d be either expensive or unavailable.

If you were to explore the idea, having one phone number associated with you, no matter your location, an amazing idea, and an easier way to be able to stay in touch. On the other hand, for some people, the last thing they want is people being able to find them wherever they are.

Anyways, GrandCentral just may have revolutionized the phone game or, as The New York Times says, “GrandCentral has rewritten the rules in the game of telephone”.

Note: GrandCentral is only available in the U.S., but may be available in Canada soon.


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