Like many, I am very disappointed that the service has been stagnant. Google bought GrandCentral last July and development of the service came to a screeching, grinding halt. The developers posted back in April that they were working on improving/updating the service. Since then, nada.
Now that I have an iPhone, I don’t think I can hold on much longer.
GrandCentral on an iPhone is practically unusable.
For starters, mobile version or not, the site requires Flash to play voicemails. So while I’ll get notified via text/email that I have new GrandCentral voicemail, there is absolutely no way to play it on an iPhone. The only way to listen to a GrandCentral message on an iPhone is to call my number and navigate through new messages in an old-fashioned, linear fashion. Ugh.
I could handle the lack of visual voicemail if that was the only problem, as I don’t get a lot of messages. Most folks actually reach me. I can’t handle how much harder it is to answer the phone now.
When a Grand Central call comes in, a recording immediately says something along the lines of “Call from <person>. To accept, press 1, to send to voicemail, press 2, etc…” There is no way of accepting that call by voice, or setting an option to auto-accept a call. You must physically press a button on the phone. I understand the technical reason why that’s necessary, since multiple phones may be ringing and there has to be something that says “this is where the call should go” but it doesn’t make the mechanics any easier.
On the BlackBerry, that was easy enough. I almost got to the point that I was able to feel the corner of the keyboard and know where the “1” was without looking. Quite often, I’m answering calls through a bluetooth headset so the phone isn’t in my hand when the call comes in.
On the iPhone, when a GrandCentral call comes in and I’m lucky enough to be holding the iPhone I still need to press the “keypad” button on the call-in-progress screen to get to push the “1.” If I goof and somehow end up back on the home screen, I need to push the green bar at the top that takes me to the call where I can get to the window that gives me the keypad.
If I answer the call via Bluetooth, it’s a comedy of button presses to get to the point I can push a button to accept the call. This isn’t GrandCentral’s fault. Neither is it GrandCentral’s fault that the iPhone can’t handle Flash, but it’s what I have to work with right now.
There a number of such services aimed at SMBs and the Enterprise (RingCentral and PhoneFusion immediately come to mind) but they’re way more than I need. I’m looking for the simplicity of GrandCentral but functional on the iPhone. Is that too much to ask?