Technology-Headlines

by George Heymann

GrowlVoice – A Google Voice Client for Mac

by George Heymann

Technology-Headlines

I don’t usually start a product review with a recommendation, but in the case of GrowlVoice for Mac, I’m going to make an exception. If you have a Google Voice account and a Mac do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of GrowlVoice.

The $4.99 application developed by Eric Horacek, is one of my favorite and most used Mac utilities. The excellent Google voice client lets you send and receive texts right from the Mac menu bar quickly and easily.

The threaded text replies makes it extremely easy to view and respond to recent messages in your Google Voice inbox again from the convenience of your Mac menu bar.

Composing and sending a text message with GrowlVoice couldn’t be easier, simply click the GrowlVoice icon from the Mac menu bar and click the “compose text” icon on the lower left from the drop down dialogue box. This will prompt a new window with two text fields, the first prompts you for a number and the latter with a text box for your message complete with a 160 character countdown counter.

The number field is tied to your Google contacts so you can start typing a contact name and the choices quickly narrow to match your entry. You receive instant notification when you have a new message allowing you to quickly respond to new texts, return missed calls as well as respond to voicemail.

GrowlVoice also allows you to place calls with your Google Voice number from within the program. Placing a call with GrowlVoice is similar to how you compose a text message, but instead of a text box to enter a message you are presented with a dialogue box to choose which phone to use to complete the call. Here is where I’ve run into a problem using this utility. When I click the “Call with Phone:” menu I’m given three options to complete my call, Google Talk, Home or Mobile.

I haven’t been able to get the Google Talk option to work with my setup. If I choose mobile, or home, GrowlVoice will dial the appropriate phone then connect the call with the number or contact I’ve entered in the number menu.

The GrowlVoice web page offers a frequently asked question section (FAQ) on itssupport page that provides some insight into the problem and prompts you to open a Gmail browser window in order to use the Google Talk “call phones” feature. Mr. Horacek should consider adding this information in a pop up menu within the program if the Google Talk option is selected from the “Call with Phone:” menu to help avoid confusion.

The FAQ offers a further explanation “ The reason that GrowlVoice isn’t able to place calls is that Google doesn’t offer an easy way for developers to interface with their “Call Phones” system. To get it to work seamlessly and intuitively without a browser open, GrowlVoice would need to open Gmail in the background and press buttons and type into the Gmail “Call Phones” interface. If Google were to change any small thing, it would instantly break GrowlVoice, and we’d have to rush out a new version to fix it. If Google decides to offer an API for the Google Chat calling system, it’ll be the first thing we implement in GrowlVoice.” Even after following these instructions I haven’t been able to complete a call using the Google Talk option.

Hopefully Google will add an API in the future for the Google Chat calling system. Despite this minor setback with GrowlVoice, I absolutely love this application and can recommend it without reservation. If after reading this review you’re still not convinced GrowlVoice offers a free trial version that you download and try it out for yourself, You can thank me later!

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