Google Launches Google Voice

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Date: Friday, March 13th, 2009, 15:08
Category: Google, News

This week Google launched the latest of its technology services, Google Voice, an online voicemail service that promises “one phone number for all your phones, for life”. However, Google Voice did not originally sprout from Google’s tech labs, it started out as GrandCentral. The GrandCentral service was launched in 2006 and was acquired by Google in 2007 for US$50+ million. Shortly after the acquisition, Google shut down the creation of new accounts, so only then current subscribers (like myself) have been able to use the service.
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Now after nearly two years, the wait is over…almost. Google has spent a lot of time rewriting GrandCentral to give it that special Google “glow” and is available to current GrandCentral subscribers only. Google will be doling out new accounts over time. Logging into your GrandCentral account will may prompt you to “upgrade” to Google Voice and migrate your data. If you don’t already have one, you will need to create a Google account to do this. Once complete, you will be deposited into your new Google Voice Inbox and will have to recreate your custom greetings and assignments. The migration does not, however, appear to transfer your GrandCentral contacts or any messages you had in your inbox, but you can still log into your GrandCentral account separately to access those. Google Voice will use your Google contacts, if you have any, so you will need to recreate any missing contacts there. Any new calls you get to your GrandCentral number will be deposited in the new Google Voice Inbox.
All the original features are there, call-screening, custom greetings for different groups of contacts, sending SMS and email notices of received calls, and forwarding calls to other phones. With the launch of the new service, Google has added new features such as Voicemail Transcription which converts your voicemails to text and can be searched and tagged within Google Voice. You can now use SMS to send messages from your Google Voice number, rather than using one number for voice and a second for texting. This was one of the biggest complaints from GrandCentral users. SMS messages sent through the service will also be searchable and taggable. And competing directly with services such as Skype, Google has added conference calling with up to six people, with recording features, as well as an international calling service with rates similar to Skype’s. Your balance, as well as the ability to add credit through Google Checkout, are in the Google Voice sidebar.
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It may have taken a long time, but the service seems to be mature enough now with the added features to be a suitable replacement for most people’s current voicemail services. It is especially compelling if you are already using other Google services, such as GMail, with it’s combined contacts and searching capabilities. Like Google’s other services, Google Voice will be FREE, except for the international calling feature, which is making the new service a highly prized commodity among online users. Account invitations offered by various news sites have already been spoken for and can be found on eBay for as much as US$650! I will be putting the new service through it’s paces to see if it is worth trying to switch over again and trying to get people to use the new number. Wish me luck!

Rumor: O2 May Drop iPhone 3G Prices in May Prior to Release of New Model

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Date: Friday, March 13th, 2009, 08:27
Category: iPhone, Rumor

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UK phone carrier O2 may drop prices on Apple’s iPhone 3G handset come May according to Mobile, a regional technology-centered magazine. The publication cites exclusive information, pointing to the device becoming free with £35 or £45 per month subscriptions. The 8GB iPhone is currently available for free with £45 and £75 plans, while the 16GB model is free only at the £75 level.
The purpose of such a move is thought to be aimed at clearing inventory space ahead of a new generation of iPhone, which is generally expected to be released in June or July in the same manner as the first and second generations of the handset’s hardware. Mobile sources also claim that Apple is in negotiations with O2 rival Orange, which may finally result in a second official carrier for the UK.
Additional information on a new generation of iPhone hardware is expected on March 17th, when Apple will preview its iPhone OS 3.0 firmware at a press event in Cupertino. Potential features may include true background processesing, vector-based GPS positioning, and possibly tethering or MMS messaging.
Some analysts and sources have speculated that Apple may intend to release a cheaper companion iPhone, serving a role similar to the iPod nano in comparison to the iPod classic.
Stay tuned for additional details as they become available and please let us know what you think in the comments or forums.

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OmniWeb Updated to 5.9.1

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Date: Friday, March 13th, 2009, 08:12
Category: Software

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Early Wednesday, Omni released version 5.9 of its OmniWeb web browser. The new version, a 23.1 megabyte download, adds the following fixes and changes:

  • Auto-closing tab drawer: If the tab drawer was automatically opened when you created multiple tabs, it will now automatically close when you return to a single tab. (If you manually opened the tab drawer, it will stay open until you manually close it.)
  • Added support for three-finger swipes on recent laptops: swiping left and right goes back and forth in history; swiping up and down switches to the previous or next tab.
  • You can now send the current web page to OmniFocus (using its clippings service) without having to select some text on the page first. Please note that this feature requires OmniFocus 1.6 (or later).
  • Navigating web pages using speech recognition works once again. (Speech recognition must be turned on in System Preferences, as well as being enabled in OmniWeb’s General Preferences. You can then say the name of a link to follow it, or use built-in commands link “new tab”, “next tab”, “go back”, etc.)
  • Reimplemented the Summarize toolbar item.
  • Dragging the last tab out of a window will now close that window.
  • Added support for download links which use the HTTP Content-Disposition header.
  • Added support for the JavaScript print action (window.print()).
  • OmniWeb no longer displays an empty page when it receives a HTTP 204 “no content” status code. This fixes bugs with several rating systems.
  • Using Click-Hold to activate the context menu in browser windows is now disabled by default, since that breaks compatibility with some web pages which want to see the mouse-down event immediately (before we determine that it’s actually a click-hold event). You can turn Click-Hold back on by setting the hidden ActivateContextMenuWithClickHold default.
  • Added Release Notes to the Help menu.
  • Fixed a bug where clicks would land in the wrong place if a hidden location bar was temporarily visible (because you were editing it with Command-L) and you clicked in the browser (causing it to hide again).
  • The Open window can now be closed by pressing the Escape key (in addition to Command-W). The window’s tab cycle also now includes all its controls.
  • Bookmarklets are now labeled properly when dragging them to the favorites bar.
  • Command-Shift-Left Arrow now performs the standard text editing behavior of selecting to the beginning of a line of text, rather than taking you back to your start page.
  • If your navigation bar is hidden and you press Shift-Command-F to go to the search field, OmniWeb will no longer show and hide the navigation bar before showing it yet again.
  • Tweaked the favorites bar background.
  • Updated the default start pages.
  • Localization updates for Simplified Chinese, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Swedish.
  • OmniWeb 5.9.1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.
    If you’ve played with the new version and noticed any major improvements or shortcomings, let us know in the comments or forums.

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    Roxio Toast Titanium 9.0.5 Update Released

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    Date: Friday, March 13th, 2009, 07:36
    Category: Software

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    On Thursday, Roxio released version 9.0.5 of its Toast Titanium authoring software. The new version, available here, adds the following fixes and changes:

  • Resolves issue where distortion may be recorded when using system audio capture.
  • Resolves issue where waveform may not be drawn correct after updating to Mac OS X v10.5.6.
  • Toast 10 Titanium requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to install and run.
    If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback about it, let us know in the comments or forums.

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