At the end of July I declared my intention to quit the iPhone and AT&T, port my mobile phone number to Google Voice and use any mobile device that I pleased (or lots of them at once) in the future. Like others, I will no longer blindly follow all things Apple. Today I’m pleased to report a status update on those efforts: complete. I am no longer a member of the Cult of iPhone.
Porting my phone number to Google Voice was a three day process, which I was pre-warned about. The mobile carriers in the U.S. have made the porting process between them fairly easy, and it occurs over a couple of hours. But they are in no hurry to help customers move their phone numbers to Google Voice, and so it took a few extra days. Also, I’m one of the first people to port their phone number to Google Voice, and there are always a few hiccups when you’re a guinea pig.
A week ago I was an unhappy AT&T iPhone customer. I couldn’t get cell phone reception here at my house and so I was always missing important calls.
Today I’m a happy Google Voice customer. My old mobile number, which all of my contacts already have, now rings simultaneously on my home Vonage phone and the TMobile myTouch 3G Android phone that I’ve started using (and, by the way, TMobile works just fine here at home, too). If I want to start using a new phone, I can make a switch in the settings at Google Voice and calls will ring through to that instead. no carrier will ever have a stranglehold on me again.
Not only are calls being sent to both of my phones simultaneously now, but all my voicemails are now aggregated at Google Voice and immediately transcribed and emailed and SMS’d to me (complete overview of Google Voice is here). And since I’m using the Google Voice application for the Android, all my outgoing calls appear to be from my existing phone number, not the one assigned to the phone.
Single best feature of Google Voice: Call blocking. Someone spams my SMS or calls me too much, I click a button and they can never call or SMS me again.
So what’s the downside?
I had to pay the AT&T termination fee of $175. But that’s it.
And this myTouch phone (which TMobile has supplied to me for free for a test period) is an excellent piece of hardware. I believe it is superior to the iPhone 3GS – it loads the camera app and video app faster, and web pages load in about 2/3 the time it takes on the iPhone/AT&T (likely more AT&T’s fault than the iPhone). The Android apps are far more interesting because they have the ability to integrate with any native function (so, for example, Google Voice, banned on the iPhone, has taken over the myTouch native dialer). And I can run persistent apps in the background like Google Talk, which lets me keep a chat window open to contacts all the time.
Google Voice really is nearly perfect. The only thing that would be better is if they became a MVNO and offered mobile services directly as well. And tethering would be a nice feature. But for now I’m extremely happy with my mobile situation. And I plan to never do business directly with a carrier again.
Want to port your mobile number to Google Voice and do what I’ve done? You can’t just yet, but porting will be released later this year publicly. Prepare yourselves, and don’t sign any new long term contracts with your carrier. Life will soon be good for you, too.