28 Jul 2007

GrandCentral & Numbr- Permanent & temp phone numbers

I’ve sold a bunch of things on CraigsList. It’s better than eBay for a bunch of reasons, mostly importantly because it’s free. It’s intended for local buyers, so there’s never any shipping. You meet in person, you check out the product and you pay in cash. It’s like an online noticeboard that’s organized by City/State. The problem is, what if I don’t want to give out my real phone number. In comes Numbr (formerly a website that lets you temporarily create a phone number that will (for a specified amount of time) forward to your real number. Perfect for those of us who use craigslist to offload our barely functional stuff, and don’t want anyone with buyer’s remorse calling for a refund.

A little searching found that Google recently purchased a start-up that had created something similar, only with Google’s typical last forever mentality: GrandCentral. The idea being that you create one number (area codes for almost any U.S. city available) that can forward to any and all of your phones. If you get a new mobile phone, rather than tell everyone the new number, you just add it on the website, and your old number will forward to it. Great in theory, but in practice, less useful than it sounds. I can’t really hand it out, as people would assume it’s my mobile, and send me text messages. When I call people, my callerID will show, and not my GrandCentral number. There are numerous other benefits however. It records voicemail, You can record phonecalls, you can create an addressbook (or import from gmail/csv) and have different things happen depending on who’s calling (straight to voicemail, number disconnected, different call tones, different greeting, forward to different phones etc…) You can even see your call history and listen to your voicemail through the website.

All in all, it’s a great idea, with some major drawbacks. However, Google only bought them out a couple of weeks ago, and I’m sure they’re planning on properly integrating it with other google products (gmail), and adding lots more features. When has google screwed us over before? Remember people, if it wasn’t for google, we’d all still have a 2mb inbox.

It’s also a way of giving your number out online. After clicking the button, it asks you for your name and phone number. It will then call you. When you answer, it will connect you to me. It will then tell me the name you typed in and ask me to accept/reject the call.