A Couple Great Free Services (Part 2)

Hi everyone! In the last article A Couple Great Free Services (Part 1), I talked about what a great service Jott is. Today, I want to talk about another great service…


Recently acquired by Google, GrandCentral is an amazing and innovative idea. And best of all, they come through on what they want to accomplish. Here’s the gist of how it works…

You go to GrandCentral website (http://www.grandcentral.com/) to reserve a phone number you’d like to have and sign up with your name and email. Right now there’s a waiting list, so you need to get on that. Once you get your invite, you can then log into your account and get started with the good stuff.

The phone number you selected initially will now be your number that you give out to friends and family. Within GrandCentral, you can add the phone numbers of other phones you want to include – maybe your cell phone, work number, and possibly your home number. You can also import your address book from other email programs (Yahoo!, Gmail, Outlook, Outlook Express, etc.)

So, with the default settings, here’s what now happens…

  • Someone calls your phone number (the main GrandCentral number).
  • All the phones you have under that umbrella ring (your Caller ID will still show the person calling like it normally does).
  • You pick up one of the phones ringing and you now have a few options:
    • Accept the call just like a normal call and start talking.
    • Send the caller directly to voicemail.
    • Send the caller to voicemail, but listen while they are leaving their message, in case you want to pick it up (how cool is that – like an answering machine at home!)
    • Accept the call and record the conversation (the caller does get alerted to this and even so, keep in mind that this is not legal in some states)

Well, Jim, it’s pretty cool that this number is now a permanent number and no one needs to remember or even know any of your other numbers, but can’t it do anything else?

I am glad you asked! How about this:

  • Joe calls you and you’ve answered your phone at the office, but you need to get on the road. Before GrandCentral, you could interrupt Joe’s story and tell him you’ll call him back from your cell phone. With GrandCentral, however, you just press the asterisk key (*) on your phone and all your phones will ring again. You pick up on your cell phone and Joe continues his story (blah, blah, blah…). That’s one of my favorite features.
  • In the middle of a call, Kevin is about to give you directions to get to the party you’re heading to in about an hour. Just press four (4) on your phone and the conversation starts to be recorded. When you’re done with the directions, just press 4 again (or hang up) to stop recording. You can now access the recording just like a voicemail when you’ve made a wrong turn on Albuquerque and need to figure out where you went wrong.
  • Block callers as spam, just as easily if you can with email.
  • This one I think is really cool… you can create different voicemail messages for different people or different groups of people. Imagine everyone calling and getting one voicemail message but when Dawn and Lisa call, they get a different voicemail letting them know that your cell phone doesn’t work well where you’re at and to just meet you at the bar.

There’s a bunch of other features as well, but I’ll let you go check those out yourself.

The GrandCentral website is a straight-forward, simple, yet elegant dashboard to manage everything. You can quickly setup a “quick rule” to just send all calls to voicemail or just send all calls to a temporary forwarding number. You can play your voicemails and even something called Click2Call that lets you click on a phone number of someone to easily call them (GrandCentral calls you first and then connects to the number you clicked to call).

The potential for GrandCentral is amazing. And they’ve recently been acquired by Google which helps to ensure the stability of their network. GrandCentral is still in beta and they are currently looking at keeping the service free, while making some of the features available at an affordable cost. While in beta, all the features are free.

I am really impressed with GrandCentral and definitely would recommend this to anyone looking for some fun, cutting-edge technology that can actually make you more productive. GrandCentral can be found at http://www.grandcentral.com/.

If you get an opportunity, check out both services – GrandCentral and Jott (from Part 1). I hope I was able to provide some good info on both of these for you. Have a great week!

— Jim