Google Voice is an excellent service, but the iPhone app is too slow to be usable.
I’d been waiting for the release of the Google iPhone App for a long time. I’ve used the service for many years and find it incredibly useful: call screening, ringing all your phone at once, call recording, the (relativly new) click to call funcionalty in Chrome, and the record keeping are just some of the things I like about the service. The issue was always that you really couldn’t use it from you phone, it was overly clunky and overall not worth it.
Sadly, even though there’s an app, that’s still the case for one reason: the Google Voice app is slow, in almost all dimensions that matter.
Opening the app itself is slow: I often wait several seconds with waiting for the white-screen of waiting to get filled in with contacts to dial.
Dialing someone take much too long: there’s some sort of telco hack going on that with dialing other numbers and connecting you to the original number, but, you know, I’m not interested in dancing bears.
And then there’s a slow design: to call someone, you had to select their name and then select dial. On the iPhone, you just tap their name. This my seem petty, but two step dialing adds up, and having one step dialing is helpful in the car, on a bike, or while you’re otherwise not moving.
The txting interface is odd too: when you’re staring a new txt, it likes using phone numbers instead of names and doesn’t auto-complete on typing in names.
Aside from a couple odd UI workflow choices (like double-step dialing and txting), the overall patterns of use are nice. There’s push notifications for txt messages, the history log is exactly what you’d like, you can browse the voicemail transcripts (and listen to them). There’s things I’d love to see like integration with my GMail and GCal accounts to show me information about people I’m on the phone with (from calling or being called). Here, I really like what Windows Phone 7 has with its integrated Facebook and, soon, Twitter information about contacts.
Google knows most everything about me and my contacts, and it’d be very helpful if Voice integrated that info together. Of course, oddly enough, Google isn’t very good at integrating all its services together: they seem to suffer from high silo walls that prevent such integration – just guessing.
The final verdict
After using the app as my primary phone interface for several months, I finally switched back thinking, “I just want dialing to be fast and easy.” And with the native iOS phone app, it is. There’s much potential with the Google Voice app, but without fixing the performance issues, using the app is not worth the waiting.