Free Google Calls Still Confusing

Is it just me, or is Google Voice the most confusing product ever?  I must be getting too old, because I have no idea what is going on. And I invented the interweb. Maybe more on my Google Voice confusion later, but at least today the confusion went in a whole new direction for me.

Today, I got a notification for free US calls in my Gmail (more info here).  So I checked it out, and at first it seemed cool. I called my own phone, and got a wierd caller-id. So I figured out you have to sign up for Google Voice to get a phone number.  So i did that, and now my calls from GMail have my new Google Voice caller ID.  I paired my cell phone with Google Voice, trying to figure out how the consolidation works. Within Google Voice, I can set it to make outgoing calls with my cell’s caller ID, however when I make a call from Google Voice, it rings my cell phone (to patch you through, i guess) instead of calling directly from the browser.  And then i went back to GMail and made a call from there, but you can’t change the caller ID there, as it always uses your Google Voice number from there.  What is going on here?

And then neither “Google Voice” or “GMail Call” are integrated into the Gmail contact list. Why can’t you browse your contacts (or rollover that contact in an email) and get the option to call them right there?

And of course I loaded up the mobile version in my iPhone, and when i dialed it seemed to kick me over into my regular dialer, thereby wasting my minutes (i assume). What is the point of that? I may as well just use the native dialer. I know they’re having problems getting app approval from Apple, but I thought the browser based version was self-contained. (Not to mention, Google, you’ll make me ecstatic if you connect all this to FaceTime from both the iPhone and any browser.)

Basically these products are only partially integrated, and half the features work in gmail and half the features work in google voice.  You should definitely be able to make the same browser-based voice calls from within Google Voice as you can within GMail, and you should be able to change your caller ID in GMail like you can in Google Voice. Why are these implementations so disparate?

Rocket Science? So much potential. Forever Beta.

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