When Google acquired Skype competitor Gizmo5 in November 2009 it wasn’t much of a stretch to anticipate a soft phone application for Google Voice to be coming soon. A few months later we heard that Google was dogfooding Google Voice Desktop internally. But then last month we learned that Google was delaying any launch of the product, and may be scrapping it entirely, because Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin don’t want Google to be in the business of creating software outside of the browser.
We’ve asked our sources for screen shots of what Google Voice Desktop looks like. We didn’t get those, but we did get something better – the actual application. We’ve taken a video (above) showing what the application looks like, showing both outbound and inbound calls. This is mostly still branded Gizmo5, although the sign up screen says “Gizmo5 by Google,” and it is fully integrated with the Google Voice service, address book, etc. The Desktop application was also automatically added as one of my phones in the Google Voice for the browser. We don’t know if this is the current internal release or something more dated.
The test calls in the video above were done without a headset, I just used the internal microphone and speakers. I also left in the random Skype call I received in the middle of the video that I thought was Google Voice just because I was thoroughly confused for a minute.
We continue to urge Google to release this software. It gives people an extra way to use Google Voice and is particularly useful when traveling overseas, where Google Voice doesn’t yet work. You can use Skype and buy a Skype-In number for €50/year to duplicate much of this functionality, but that’s just a ridiculous price to pay for a soft phone in our opinion.
My first request to Google is not to block me from using the application. My second request is to reconsider their decision to delay or scrap the project and give the people what they want – Google Voice Desktop.