You have arrived at the web home of Noah Brier. This is mostly an archive of over a decade of blogging and other writing. You can read more about me or get in touch. If you want more recent writing of mine, most of that is at my BrXnd marketing x AI newsletter and Why Is This Interesting?, a daily email for the intellectually omnivorous.

April, 2011

When Technology Works

The success of Google Voice in helping to reduce international calling costs.
This morning I helped a friend set up Google Voice on her Android phone as an inexpensive way to call overseas. The rate difference between calling cards and Google Voice was almost 15 cents-per-minute, a meaningful number when multiplied over hours of conversation with family at home. As I was helping to get everything running I couldn't help but feel this was one of the few circumstances where the promise of technology actually matches the application. Because Android is Google's platform they've integrated Google Voice in a near-perfect way. After installation you're asked how you'd like to use Google Voice: Always call through GV, sometimes call through GV or only call through GV when calling international. The last choice simply routes your regular phone calls through Google's datacenters somewhere and significantly lowers the cost of a call around the world (that savings is multiplied even further if compared to the exorbitant rates mobile carriers charge for international calls). That's all you have to do. You don't need to connect to wifi, enter any additional information or anything else, you just call people like you would normally call them and the phone recognizes it's international and does the work to route them appropriately. This, of course, is impossible on my iPhone and speaks to one of the advantages Google has in their position as an OS and application developer. In fact, I'd say that relationship is the best part of the Android experience (and the only part I would say is better than the iPhone). As long as you're a Google user, the on-boarding process is a pleasure as you put in your password and the phone magically fills with all you need. Anyway, not much more to add, just nice to see technology doing good.
April 9, 2011
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