Google Voice Feature Requests

Google Voice Feature Requests

If you’re not using Google Voice yet, I recommend looking into it. It can be seamlessly integrated with any Android phone, and while not as easy, it can be useful on an iPhone too. Having an iPhone 4 myself, I use Google Voice for 95% of my calls and texts. This post is about the improvements that I would love for Google to make, which I think would dramatically improve the user experience.

1. The option for conversation view all the way back in time with a given person. Currently, I can only see brief conversations with each person. The iPhone enables me to see our back and forth communication on one page all the way back, hundreds of texts into the past, a very cool feature.

2. Sync with profile photos from Facebook and accept high res profile photos for my contacts. I call and text people with the same name as my Facebook friends because they’re the same people. Sync their emails from Gmail, phone numbers from GV, and pictures from Facebook. Also the pictures GV stores are tiny and don’t use the iPhone’s caller photo quality potential.

3. Improve “Find duplicates.” I have “Marcus” and “Marcus #” both containing the same 2 phone numbers. I have no idea why it’s not finding this duplicate. I know I have others like this but I don’t know how many.

4. Who are these people in my “Most Contacted” list? Haha I haven’t contacted some of these people in over 2 years, yet some of the people I text every day don’t appear here.

5. Improve contact search. When I type “8620” it’s not finding Marcus with phone number “5554298620”. Of course this number is an example but you get the idea. When I type 8620 into “Send a text message” box it does find him, so this must be an easy fix.

6. Marcus uses Google Voice and I have his GV number saved with his contact info. He has a picture assigned to his Google account but when I click on his contact info link it shows no picture. Pull his picture, link to his blog, twitter handle, and any other info he publishes there from his Google account.

7. Put my outgoing text at the top of the inbox when I send it like my iPhone does.

8. Let me record outgoing phone calls. You can require both parties on the line to press a key on the phone to confirm intentions.

9. Let me create a Call ID so when I call a land line paying for the service it’ll show my name. Businesses would obviously pay for that feature.

10. Incoming Call ID. When someone calls me from a business (or anyone with Call ID set up on that line), Google should know who it is and show its Call ID in my inbox, along with links to its website, Yelp page & Google local business listing.

11. Enable MMS. When I send a picture from my iPhone through Google voice it never reaches its recipient.

12. For a fee, let businesses record all incoming calls. Before connecting the caller with the GV user, announce, “All calls to this phone number are recorded, to proceed, press one or say yes.”

13. Give me the option to connect via VoIP when connected to WiFi.

14. Let me use “in-network” minutes when calling another AT&T mobile subscriber.

15. Let me accept faxes to my GV number.

16. Enable a bunch of features CallFire has. Charge extra for them if necessary.

17. Bug test the GV iPhone app. It erases draft messages when I toggle between sand by and on, and has many other major bugs.

Book review: What Would Google Do?

Book review: What Would Google Do?

In What Would Google Do?, Jeff Jarvis conveys his lessons learned from the greatest technology success stories of the past decade. He draws on best practices from Etsy, Craigslist, Amazon, and of course Google. I took notes of interesting, new concepts as I read but sadly didn’t end up with much. It may be great for corporate old-schoolers, who Jarvis seems to be talking to, but if you’ve been following blogs and news in this space this book will feel a little slow and obvious.

I managed to solidify a few key points that I’ll take with me as I engender my next big tech company in the next year. First, the best position is to create a platform on which others can build. I can expect to earn little or no profit for a while under this model, but hooking developers on my platform is a very powerful strategy. I need to extract the minimum value from the network of developers and related web services to take the network to its maximum potential size and value. This enables my developers and partners to charge more, which increases their dependency on my platform or network. Another positive side-effect is that competitors don’t want to jump into a space where the efficient leader’s margins are low.

Today’s web 2.0 method for growth is to forgo paying for marketing and instead create something so great that users distribute it. Later revenue can be found and extracted, but we’ve seen the revenue-maximizing strategy fail on AOL and Yahoo while Google stole their users to frame the world’s most powerful advertising machine.

These are the most powerful pieces of advice I discovered in WWGD:

How can you act as a platform?

What can others build on top of it?

How can you add value?

How little value can you extract?

How big can the network atop your platform grow?

How can the platform get better learning from users?

How can you create open standards so even competitors will use and contribute to the network, and you get a share of the value?

I’ll certainly be applying some of these principals to my next ambitious venture. As far as the rest of the book, I recommend reading a summary instead, unless you’re brand new to the Web 2.0 business world.