Google has silently rolled out a big change for its Duo video calling service, which now allows you to place and receive those calls from the web without needing to link Duo with a phone number. We don't know precisely when this change occurred, but in our own testing, the feature is already live, though it is incomplete: It doesn't appear to work with G Suite accounts, and while you can make calls just fine, it's a little awkward for others to call you. Read More
Back in May, Google rolled out a new product consultation service to help folks in their smart home deliberations — and maybe point them at a few Google/Nest products. While you could arrange for an in-home appointment in parts of southern California, most of us had to make do with the toll-free hotline. There was just one catch: Google had the wrong number for that hotline listed on product pages for months. Read More
Late last year, Google Fi ran a promotion offering new subscribers a free month of service if they ported in a number from another carrier and brought their own phone. The company is back at it, as the offer is available again for a limited time. Read More
A few weeks ago, the Google Duo team rolled out the option to place a video call through Assistant. All you had to say was "Ok Google, video call contact_name" and Duo would open up and make the call to that person. However, at the time, I thought the feature wasn't live for me. Assistant would tell me it's calling the correct person, Duo would open, but it would stay on the main screen, not placing the call. Clearly, something was amiss and I thought it was a bug that would be fixed with time. It wasn't until a few days ago that I figured out the reason it wasn't working: my contacts had their numbers either saved without a country code or with 00 as the international prefix. Read More
Amazon introduced calling and messaging to its Echo speakers back in May then implemented the same feature inside the Alexa app so you could start a call or receive one from your phone, without having to be near your Echo. However, the feature had one main limitation: the person you were calling had to have an Echo or at least Alexa calling set up. Calls to phone numbers weren't possible, but now they are.
Amazon secretly enabled the option a couple of days ago and has now officially added it to the Alexa app changelog. After setting up Alexa calling and messaging in the app's Conversations tab, you can say something like, "Call dad's phone," or, "Call dad's mobile phone number," and it will perform a call to the phone number. Read More
We've seen a few apps and services offer virtual phone numbers before - numbers that aren't tied to a specific SIM card and can be used with an account connection rather than dedicated hardware. It's especially handy for bring-your-own-device situations at work. But T-Mobile seems to be the first major American carrier to embrace the idea with its new DIGITS system. The service allows customers to use any number of, um, numbers tied to their wireless accounts, including disposable numbers that can be added and abandoned with ease. Read More
... and a lot like Telegram. And Facebook Messenger. And plenty of other messaging apps too. But enumerating those would make for a very long title so I had to restrict it to the most popular messenger out there.
Google Allo, unlike its sister app, Duo, has its work cut out for it. While Duo doesn't have a clear competitor in the simple one-on-one mobile messaging field, especially on Android, Allo faces a roadblock of established opponents that have had years to develop their featureset, userbase, and public image. On the one hand, this gives Allo the opportunity to start fresh without any unnecessary remnants that other apps and services carry because of their older origins and the room to learn from what has and hasn't worked for them, but on the other hand, it also puts Allo at the very bottom of a very steep hill. Read More
When Allo and Duo were announced at Google I/O, one of their pillar features was their requirement for a phone number to activate. And as most of you have noticed, this has been very controversial among users: some like the simplicity of the approach, others loathe its limitations: no multi-device support, no web/desktop clients, and a requirement for workarounds to install on tablets, especially WiFi-only ones.
With Duo's release this week, these limitations were put under the spotlight, and while some users like me were convinced by the no-fuss approach of a phone number as a means of identification, others are still moaning the lack of a tie to a Google account. Read More
The LG G Pad X 10.1 isn't the most notable tablet in the world. Its specs are middling at best, its styling is inoffensive, and it isn't any particular bargain. But it does have one claim to fame, at least if you have the AT&T LTE version: it's the first tablet to support NumberSync, the service that allows users to seamlessly use one number across multiple devices for phone calls and texts. Previously the service was limited to Apple devices (piggybacking off of Apple ID) and the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch. Read More
Shhhh. I'm trying to set up an anonymous phone number, and this is a very delicate process.
Oh, what's that? It's not? Hushed? You hush! Oh... I should check out Hushed. Read More