Grand Central : One number… for life

January 13, 2008

GrandCentral

In this age of having multiple e-mail and IM accounts and phone numbers, I am big fan for consolidating the services to a single application. Accessing multiple service providers is such a pain, not only because of the time it takes to access them, but also because of the need to remember the access points and credentials for each service. A well-designed service aggregator can really make life easier. For instance, I either POP or use IMAP on all my e-mail accounts to consolidate them into my Mail application. I just need to open my Mail app daily, and all my mail’s are there in one single location. Similarly, Adium consolidates all my IM accounts.

Phone’s are the next dinosaurs amongst our current communication tools. GrandCentral is a great idea for consolidating all your phone numbers into a single number, which you can also retain for life. And best of all, it is free (at least for the moment).

I had heard about GrandCentral back in 2006 from GigaOM, but was not entirely thrilled by the $15 monthly plan. I was using AT&T’s CallVantage at that time, and had most of the features already. Also, I thought I didn’t really need one more phone number. But last year I had to sign out of VOIP – mainly for its lack of QoS, but also for the 911 features. After reverting back to plain old POTS, I terribly missed the ability to access my phone records and voicemail online. So recently, when I learned that GrandCentral was now open for invite-only beta after having acquired by Google, I decided to check it out.

I got an invite from http://www.grandcentralinvite.com/ and after testing it out for a few weeks, I must say I am impressed. You can not only aggregate all your POTS phones, but you can also add your GIZMO number, so you can remain available even if you are outside the US.

When you signup, you get to choose a phone number (most area codes seem to be available, but I have no idea if they have every area code in their list) that you can keep for life. Next, you enter all your phone numbers – mobile, home, work etc. Then you add phone numbers of your friends and family. And you are all set. You can now have your phones ring simultaneously when someone calls your GrandCentral number, or selectively based on rules you set up.

There’s a whole of bunch of other features that might interest you, but the one that I like best is Call Switch. While you are on a call that came from GrandCentral, you can seamlessly switch between your mobile phone and your home phone without having to drop you call. This is a great feature, because my mobile phone reception is pretty weak inside our home. So I can keep talking on my mobile until I reach my home, and then switch over to my home phone. Without the caller ever knowing. How cool is that?

Also, you can call out from GrandCentral to any long distance number. For free. Now, I am not sure if this will be free when the product comes out of its beta state. But hey, it is Google. They have ton’s of green, right? So, go on… Sign up, and enjoy…

PS: I still have a few invites left out. If you would like one, please let me know or leave a comment. You can always use the grandcentralinvite site above too.

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7 Responses to “Grand Central : One number… for life”

  1. Vishnu Says:

    send me an invite Jai.. I’ll check it out as well..

  2. yasmine2008 Says:

    please send me a grand central invite. i’ve been dying to get my hand on one. thanx

  3. Keith Says:

    please send me an invite

  4. sundar Says:

    Hello Jai.
    If you have an Invite, can you please send me one. Thanks in advance.

  5. uly Says:

    please send me an invite too

  6. Sandra Says:

    Hello,

    I think currently GrandCenteral has stopped the invites, however I want to request you that when they start again, please send me an invite. Thank you so much. My email is p00rs0l3+row@gmail.com

  7. UK Gadget Says:

    some good gadget deals here


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