Monday, August 30, 2010

Hello, Hello? And Google Does it Again

Google announced a new service, calling for free for the US and Canada. My excitement rose, fell, and then stabilized when I remembered the last service did not work from here. They have a SMS from your Gmail account, but the service only works for the US, Israel, parts of Palestine, Ghana, and other remote unlikely locations. I had not hope of seeing this new service appear in my Gmail account. BUT it did. It took two more days for it to make an appearance in Ron's account, and it has finally arrived in my other accounts. 

Up to now, we have been devoted Jajah users. There is nothing to download or install on your computer. All you need to do is register. If the people you call are Jajah users, the call is free, up to an hour a month. If they are not users, you put money on an account. We generally put $20 on it and it lasts for 6 months or more with Ron calling family twice a month. The advantage of Jajah is that you use your regular phone, not a computer headset. You are free to roam around when you talk. One friend called me from Las Vegas as she was traveling to work. We have a Jajah button on our B and B website, so others can call us and we pay the bill. It is nominal.

Skype is what everyone is most familiar with. We had tried it in the past, but Ron could not hear his sister and had to scream for her to hear him. Even the best earphones and mic did not persuade him to continue using it. It has only been after years, a number of upgrades and everyone asking if we had a Skype account that I waved the white flag and downloaded it onto the computer creating a BudaBaB account. Unlike Jajah, things need to be downloaded onto the computer and I am stuck at the computer with a headset on to use it. 

If you have a Gmail account, open it and on the left under the chat list there is Call Phone. If you click on it, a box opens with a numeric keypad. It is set for the US already, so you only have to click on the numbers for an area code and the 7 digit phone. Ron gave it a test drive to see if it really would work from here. It did. The only thing that we had to download was a small piece of voice activation software. He spent forty minutes speaking with his sister in Colorado. I did not hear him scream at her or to her once. When he finished, he said the connection was excellent. His only complaint was being stuck in front of the computer having to wear earphones. He has a habit of wandering around when he speaks on the phone. Not possible with Gmail calling.

Calling other countries are on a small fee for service plan, similar to Jajah or Skype if the party being called is not a member of the service. Google says the US and Canada will stay free through 2010, so get your calls in.
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