How Google is helping me live a cellphone-free life

Two recent Google Hangout announcements will make it easier to live my cellphone-free life, without relying on Skype.

google voice primary

It's been quite a while since I've had an actual “cellphone”; instead I rely on the combination of Google Voice and Skype – a setup that I've detailed in the past – to provide all my phone-on-the-go functionality.

Overall, I've been quite happy with that setup. But, truth be told, it is a bit...MacGyver-y. When someone calls my Google Voice phone number, they get auto-forwarded to my Skype phone number... which then rings Skype and allows me to talk on the phone like a normal person.

But, on occasion, Skype screws up and causes the call to get lost in what I (affectionately) refer to as “The Skype Phone-call Pit of Death.” Then there's the problem where, when a voicemail gets left in Google Voice, Skype gets all confused and leaves me a long, empty voicemail.

The point here is that Skype can be a royal pain in the posterior sometimes.

Luckily, Google just made Skype completely, utterly pointless. (Well. Maybe not so lucky for Skype – but definitely lucky for me.)

Two specific announcements were made that make my “cellphone-free” life so much nicer.

First, Google Voice functionality is now truly integrated into Google Hangouts, meaning I can send and receive text messages directly from Google Hangouts (on my desktop PC or Android). And, perhaps even more importantly, I can use Google Hangouts to make phone calls (including a phone dialer).

The second announcement is that, as long as I'm only making calls to the U.S. and Canada, those phone calls are free. International calls are billed per minute at rates that seem pretty reasonable. It looks like calling a land line in London, for example, costs 1 cent per minute.

All of this means that, as long as I have some form of data connectivity, there is no longer an actual need to have cellphone voice service. Or Skype.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I get to go cancel my Skype subscription...with a very big smile on my face.

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