Pulling Into GrandCentral…

September 17, 2007

A while back I heard about this new service, GrandCentral that allowed you to have a single phone number that would forward to several phones. We already had similar functionality since we use Vonage for our home phone service but I’m forever testing things and so I signed up. I used the number a little but was basically having it forwarded to my cell since a key feature was missing to make it a true help for me – more on that later. Now nearly a year later, Google has bought up the little company and it’s all the buzz. Yes, it seems to be a perpetual beta software but it really does shine.

The interface is outstanding. It’s got quite a bit of Flash so I can’t imagine it would score well in accessibility but it does provide for an intuitive navigation. The site is well laid out and does a good job of providing the things that I needed, like help and FAQ, without making me work to hard to find stuff (MSDN, I’m looking at you). It has the ability to import contacts from CSV files so that you’re not having to re-type your entire address book – a non-starter in my book.

The big gripe was that it doesn’t handle extensions. For most people, like myself, this makes it useless on the office phone. Aside from my cell, that’s the phone I use the most so it really made this a forwarding number for my cell. Given cell number portability, that really doesn’t provide me as much value as I would have hoped. A few of the features that I did find really cool and valuable were the custom routing/ringing based on which group the caller belongs to, call switch that allows you to pass the call between registered phones, and having voicemail sent via email. So overall, I would say the positives far outweigh the negatives. I have a few invitations left so if you’re interested, post a comment and I’ll get you an invite.

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