How Google Hangouts Has Made Life More Difficult for Google Voice Users

As an entrepreneur I have used Google Voice on my iPhone for a few years. You get a phone number with a local area code from anywhere, and it’s free. Recently, though, Google decided to merge Google Voice with Google Hangouts the chat service. On the surface this is an idea with a lot of potential, but in practice Google has neglected some things that have made it more difficult to use Google Voice after the Hangouts merger.

#1. The call quality of Google Voice calls has declined dramatically in the Hangouts iOS app. The audio drops out randomly and the voice of the caller or the receiver will lag unexpectedly. This is especially nerve-racking when you are trying to handle something important or urgent and you can’t communicate clearly with your caller.

#2. There is no way to add a contact from within the app. If someone texts you introducing themselves, there is no “Add to Contacts” button that lets you add them to your phone. Furthermore, you can’t even highlight and copy the number to paste it into your Phone or Contacts app.

All you can do is memorize the number and type it into your contacts. It’s almost like Google didn’t even try to use Hangouts with Google Voice, because if they did, they would have certainly encountered this annoyance.

#3. You can no longer access your texts, calls, and voicemails in the browser. I used to check on my calls and texts in my browser, and I loved how I could perform text searches for text messages OR voicemails in Google Voice. Now that it’s been integrated with Google Voice, this feature no longer works. The only thing that works is the app client for Google Hangouts which is only available in Chrome.

#4. Hangouts mixes up chat and phone contacts. Another annoying thing is that when you search for a contact in Hangouts it doesn’t just show you your phone contacts, it also shows you other people from Hangouts, Google+ and the Google network. It also shows you the Hangouts accounts of your friends, many of whom won’t get your message on your phone except in Hangouts whenever they might sign in.

#5. If you make a phone call on Hangouts and you receive a new incoming call while you’re on the line, the incoming call forces the first call audio to drop. Your first call remains connected but it is muted. Huge problem when you’re on an important call.

Google Hangouts Not Fit to Replace Google Voice

Ever since the merger with Google Hangouts, it just hasn’t been the same for us Google Voice has-beens. The downsides of the new app (in terms of Google Voice features) seem so glaring to me that it makes me wonder how seriously Google takes the old functionality of providing a phone number for use on a mobile device — apparently, not very.

The new Google Voice service through Hangouts is so bad that I find myself scrambling to try to find an alternative solution before it becomes a detriment to my business.

Does anyone else feel like Google Voice users have been left in the dust? What alternatives would you recommend?

iPhone Apps vs. Apple Watch Apps: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Wondering what it’s like to have an Apple Watch to complement your iPhone? Here is a side-by-side visual comparison of all of the Apple Watch apps and their iPhone app counterparts.

Apple Watch Phone App

Apple Watch Phone App
The Apple Watch Phone app will connect with your iPhone via Bluetooth to let you place and receive calls right from your wrist.

Apple Watch Messages App

Apple Watch Messages App
The Apple Watch Messages app will ping you when a message arrives. You can respond with an audio voice message right from your wrist, or use voice-to-text to transcribe your message to text.

Apple Watch Mail App

Apple Watch Mail App
The Apple Watch Mail app will notify you of an incoming email and allow you to read it.

Apple Watch Camera App

Apple Watch Camera App
With the Apple Watch camera remote, you can set your iPhone somewhere and use your watch to snap the shot remotely.

Apple Watch Photos App

Apple Watch Photos App
You’ll be able to browse your photos — albeit tiny ones — right from your wrist.

Apple Watch Music App

Apple Watch Music App
The Apple Watch Music app connects to your iPhone and lets you control your music from your wrist.

Apple Watch Maps App

Apple Watch Maps App
The Apple Watch Maps app gives you a tiny turn-by-turn view of your route.

Apple Watch Weather App

Apple Watch Weather App
Check the temperature easily without accessing your phone using the Apple Watch Weather app.

Apple Watch Passbook App

Apple Watch Passbook App
The Apple Watch Passbook app gives you access to your tickets, coupons, and other entry passes right from your wrist.

Apple Watch Stocks App

Apple Watch Stocks App

Apple Watch Calendar App

Apple Watch Calendar App
The Apple Watch Calendar app shows you a succinct summary of your day’s appointments.

Apple Watch Settings App

Apple Watch Settings App
Control your Apple Watch in a way similar to your iPhone using the Settings app.

Apple Watch Siri

Apple Watch Siri
With Siri on the Apple Watch you can access all kinds of information with voice commands just as you can with your iPhone.

Apple Watch Remote App

Apple Watch Remote App
The Apple Watch Remote app lets you control your music, movies, or Apple TV right from your wrist.

Apple Watch Activity & Workout Apps

Apple Watch Activity & Workout Apps
With the Apple Watch, Apple will introduce the Activity and Workout apps which will give Watch users a way to track their motion, heart rate and exercise progress from their wrist.

Apple Watch Clock App

Apple Watch Clock App
With the Apple Watch, the Alarm, Stopwatch, Timer, and World Clock are separate tiny apps, as opposed to the single Clock app on iPhone.

Apps Missing From the Apple Watch

You may notice some iOS apps missing from the Apple Watch. Paul Canetti points out in this great infographic that Safari and other notable apps are AWOL on the Watch:

iPhone Apps Not on Apple Watch

Apps not on the Apple Watch include:

  • Compass
  • Facetime
  • App Store
  • iTunes Store
  • Game Center
  • Newsstand
  • Notes
  • Reminders
  • Calculator
  • Podcast
  • Tips
  • Videos
  • iBooks
  • Voice Memos
  • Contacts
  • Safari

In addition, the introduction of the Apple Watch means all iPhone users now get an Apple Watch app, whether they like it or not.

So what do you think? Do the apps on Apple Watch complement the iPhone well? Is it worth it to get this new device for your wrist in addition to your iPhone? Please share your opinion in the comments.

What I Learned About Myself By Giving Up My iPhone for 3 Months

Last September I accidentally cracked my iPhone screen for the second time, and this time, instead of fixing it right away, I decided to explore what it would be like to — gasp! — not have a phone.

In that quarter of a year, I learned a lot about what it’s like to go against the grain and live life without a gadget that most people would consider a bodily appendage.

My most important takeaways:

#1. I have the power within me to strike up a conversation with a stranger and make a new friend.

When we are out and among strangers the temptation to engage with our device often overcomes the desire to take a risk and talk to a new person.

Without an iPhone, I was more likely to chat with a stranger in line at the coffee shop or grocery store, because my eyes had nowhere else to look but towards the world around me.

I made new friends this way. I wrote down their names and emails on a piece of paper.

Life is more fulfilling when you engage with others.

#2. It’s scary, but empowering, to be on your own.

At first, there is a certain anxiety that comes along with not having a mobile device. Where do I direct my attention if not towards my screen? Do I look silly just sitting here idly? What if a friend or family member needs me and can’t reach me right now?

Those feelings fade and what remains is a sense of self-determination; a feeling that you control your own life and you don’t NEED to be hooked to your iPhone at all times.

#3. I can handle life and get what I need without the crutch of a mobile device.

Without an iPhone, you walk into the corner store and ask for directions. Or you pay attention and recall the street you came down to get here.

You carry a notepad and still keep your appointments. You wear a watch.

Without an iPhone you return your phone calls later, in one sitting, rather than letting them interrupt you all day — I used Google Voice on my computer.

#4. I deserve the calm and peace of mind that comes with disconnection.

Once I got over the worry that people would call me and be unable to reach me, I realized how much less stress I experienced when I went about my life and work without constant interruption from phone calls and push notifications. It dawned on me that I deserve to have my peace of mind, and I can choose to call you back (or not) if and when the time is right.

#5. I don’t owe it to anyone to be reachable 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

It seems these days like people expect to have your attention whenever they want it. While I am giving of my time, I prefer to set limits on my availability, and that’s hard to do when you have a limitless communication device in your pocket or otherwise beside you at all times.

Giving up my iPhone gave me an appreciation for being able to focus and conduct my daily activities undistracted.

#6. I am more productive when I’m prepared.

Living without an iPhone created a need for me to become more prepared and punctual. If I said I was going to be somewhere at a certain time and then was running late, there was no texting the person to let them know where I was. If I had a phone call scheduled for a certain time, I had to be sure to be at a computer to make the call on Google Voice. I became much more organized for this reason, and my improved habits meant improved productivity.

#7. I can still have success when I choose to do the opposite of what everyone else does.

If I told someone I didn’t have a phone the reaction was often one of amazement. These days it’s hard for us to imagine going without a phone.

While I decided ultimately to repair my iPhone and go back to the connected life, the experience did not detract from my progress and in fact helped me build better life habits. It was a great learning experience and time of self-reflection.

Would you ever consider going a month or more without your iPhone?

7 Signs You Might Be Addicted to Your iPhone

A little over a decade ago, the T-Mobile Sidekick revolutionized adolescent communication. I remember my sister, an early Sidekick adopter, was reprimanded nightly at the dinner table by my father: “Get off that thing already!”

I remember feeling like a disturbing new era was upon us, one in which we would abandon communication with those beside us in favor of chit-chat with those on the other end of our digital devices.

After the Sidekick came the Blackberry — or “Crackberry” — with its BBM (Blackberry Messenger) client, the more adult version of the Sidekick’s chat client, and our society’s digital dependence deepened.

These days, I am more like my once-teenage sister than I care to admit.

Does your mobile device have a firm grip on you? Consider these 7 signs you might be addicted to your iPhone:

#1. You sleep with your iPhone under your pillow, or on your bed.

A Pew Research study found that an astonishing 90% of 18-29 year olds sleep with their mobile phone in or beside their bed. This statistic makes the case that we are all, at least a little, addicted to our smartphones.

#2. You regularly scroll through your screen while sitting down for a meal.

What ever happened to savoring a meal and good conversation at the table? Increasingly, the conversations we are having at dinnertime are with people we’re texting on our iPhones.

#3. You can’t go a day without posting a picture of your food on Facebook or Instagram.

When every mundane detail of your life must be documented to the point that you are rarely present in the actual experience, then surely you are addicted to your iPhone.

#4. You feel anxious if you don’t have your iPhone on you.

Who doesn’t know the feeling of inexplicable anxiety that comes with forgetting or losing your phone somewhere? A couple of decades ago everyone got by without mobile communication devices, but today we can barely manage to run an errand without one.

#5. You run out of battery by lunchtime.

If you’re so hooked on social media, texting, and browsing on your iPhone that you can’t make it a few hours into the day without draining your iPhone battery, then you’re probably addicted to your iPhone.

#6. You can’t sit down on the toilet without your iPhone in-hand.

Admit it, Facebooking while pooping is one of your favorite pastimes. Addicted.

#7. Your loved ones regularly have to remind you to “get off your phone.”

Most disturbing is the reality that when we are glued to our phones, we are often times neglecting quality time with our friends, family members, and other members of society that we could be getting to know.

As useful as your iPhone can be, the prospect of iPhone addiction threatens to undermine your relationships and your genuine enjoyment of life. Consider the above signs that you may be addicted to your iPhone and check your smartphone habit before it becomes a real problem.

iPhone Millionaire: iPhone User as Producer Rather Than Consumer

As I was surfing Amazon last night, I came across this book that has me intrigued: iPhone Millionaire, a new publication that promises to “Change Your Life With the World’s Greatest Gadget” in as little as six weeks. The book teaches “how to create and sell cutting edge video” using nothing but the iPhone.

iPhone Millionaire Book

Aside from the obvious appeal of the “millionaire” title, what compels me about this book is the idea of democratization of technology that the author talks about.

Michael Rosenblum, founder of the New York Video School and author of iPhone Millionaire, shares in a blog post on NYVS his realization that “the iPhone is the key to an enormous break-out of ‘democratizing’ video and the web.”

When Steve Jobs called the iPhone “revolutionary,” he missed this key point: the iPhone is also a revolutionary media production tool that enables ordinary people to create extraordinary value.

For decades, society has enamored itself with what was once considered a revolutionary consumption device, the television.

Today, although few have yet to realize it, we have in our hands a revolutionary production device, the iPhone.

For over half a century, the communication channels have been owned exclusively by a handful of large corporations. Not anymore.

We have at our fingertips the next mobile era, a renaissance of sorts, when we iPhone users realize our potential to create profound value for society with our technology. For some this will mean breaking news in courageous acts of citizen journalism. For others, it will mean engaging in grassroots commerce, telling stories and sharing information that people will pay for. This phenomenon may even breed some “iPhone millionaires,” as Rosenblum has titled his book.

The next mobile era calls for us to be producers, beyond just consumers. The author is clear on this reality:

We live in a world of apps, but most apps are one-way, that is, receivers.

But the next generation of apps will be transmitters as well, allowing you to put ‘stuff’ into the ‘system’ as well as access it.

For years, I have considered myself an advocate of the Internet for this power to democratize.

Consider this excerpt from an essay I once wrote on the subject in college:

Some say our generation is hooked on silly gadgets. I say we are empowered by these tools. We are not slaves to our computers. We are the active, conscientious drivers of today’s digital democracy, and the engine is the Internet.

The media of the past was hand-fed to us by extraordinary media titans, but the knowledge of today is disseminated through a web of individual citizens like you and me.

Mobile technology will take this idea to the next level, enabling every iPhone user to be a media company. The author of iPhone Millionaire appears to get this, and so I am looking forward to reading his ideas in the book, which is now available on Amazon.