Grand Central


I saw Bob’s request for a Grand Central invite, and recalled that miklb mentioned in #habari that he had spare invites available. I asked miklb if he’d send an invite to Bob, but he went one better by sending the invite to me, thereby allowing me to send an invite to Bob. So now I have a Grand Central account, and I’m left wondering how – if at all – I’m going to use it.

The premise of Grand Central is that you get a phone number from them. Then you register all your other phone numbers (home, work, mobile) with them. Whenever someone calls your Grand Central number, it will ring all your registered phones, allowing you to select which phone to use to answer the call. The idea is pretty clever, and they offer some novel additional features.

It makes sense for me to give my Grand Central number to my dad, who has a habit of calling my cell phone, work number, and home number in sequence if I don’t answer his call. So he can call one number, and be assured that I’ll hear his call, regardless of where I am. Likewise, I think it makes sense to have the kids start using my GC number, so that they can increase their chances of reaching me if they need me. (I get poor cellular reception in my office, for example, and it’s not entirely uncommon to miss a call to my mobile.)

Beyond that, though, I don’t know that Grand Central is all that useful to me. I don’t want to talk to my friends on my office phone. I don’t want to talk to work on my cell phone or home phone unless it’s an emergency. Of course, being able to pick up a landline in order to avoid using cellular minutes has no small amount of appeal to me.

I just discovered that I can also connect calls to my Gizmo account, allowing me to use a Gizmo softphone to answer calls. This would be handy in travel situations – especially overseas – allowing me to accept incoming calls without incurring astronomical roaming fees from my cellular provider.

One can initiate calls from the Grand Central web site. When you elect to call someone in your address book, you’re presented with the option of which of your registered phones you will use for the call. Grand Central then calls that phone, and when you pick it up they they connect you to the number you’re calling. I wish they provided a web-based softphone, so that I wouldn’t need to have the connection handed over to one of my phones: such a feature would be super handy when traveling (again, mostly abroad).

I feel like I’m missing something obvious about Grand Central. While I see it has limited usefulness, I can’t help but feel like I’m not seeing the bigger picture…

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