Google Phone Could Mean Free Mobile Phone Service

Encyclopedia Googlactica: Google Puts All Huma

Images of the new Google phone surfaced this week after months of rumors. It appears the phone is manufactured under the Google brand, will use an even newer version of Android than that of the Droid−the only Android phone running 2.0, and most important, may use VoiP service, which uses a wireless connection to the Internet for calls rather than a cellular network. This could mean lower cell phone bills, and for some, no bill at all.

VoiP or Voice Over Internet Protocol service, uses an Internet connection to transmit voice signals the same way emails and text messages are transmitted, and is far cheaper than using a cell phone network. With pressure from budget-conscious consumers, VoiP services like Skype are becoming more attractive, offering free domestic calls, no minutes to count, no roaming, and international calls at a fraction of the cost of cell phone rates, but even Skype has not been convenient enough for consumers to abandon their familiar phone service providers.

Computers have long been the only hardware for VoiP calls, and required the caller to use a headset to both send and receive messages. Newer computers, including netbooks, with their built-in webcams and microphones, can be used for VoiP calls with a simple software download, eliminating the need for a headset. Smartphones were the next devices to get VoiP, and like computers require the user to download an app and secure a wireless connection.

The Google phone may be the first smartphone designed specifically for VoiP service, and will come with all of the goodies Google has introduced this year:

  1. The Android operating system in a newer version than what is currently offered on the Droid, on schedule to sell a million units before the end of the year, far ahead of analysts’ expectations.
  2. Google Voice, Google’s free multi-phone number and message management application, currently available by invitation only and only in the US.
  3. Google Latitude, the free app that lets friends share their locations with one another.
  4. Google Maps, the free GPS app for mobile phones offering voice guided, turn-by- turn directions that could replace not only the pricier phone apps, but stand-alone GPS systems altogether.

The last piece of the puzzle is WiFi connections or hotspots. Lucky residents of Seattle, Austin, San Francisco and Atlanta have fairly reliable, complimentary WiFi coverage. And of course, if you find yourself in Beijing, the city was fully covered prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics. Corporate sponsored WiFi is growing: Google paid for WiFi in 45 US airports over this holiday season, offering the service free to travelers, and bit by bit companies are seeing WiFi installations as effective branding strategies.

But for now, WiFi hotspots and connections are spotty at best. Even hands- free calling on the road becomes impossible without a connection, and we can only wait for more auto manufacturers to follow General Motors who began offering the Autonet WiFi router in GM SUVs and trucks in November. At $500 for the device plus $59 a month for 5GB data service, it’s a pricy and limited solution.

Verizon offers a pocket-sized solution with MiFi, providing a wireless connection for up to five devices virtually anywhere for $60 a month with two year contract. Alternately, Google phone users may be able to purchase just a data plan from a cell phone provider, assuming providers cooperate.

The best solution would be an integrated mobile hotspot in the Google phone, activated only when an external hotspot was not detected.

The Google phone is expected as early as January 2010.

This article was provided by TopTenREVIEWS.

Leslie Meredith
Leslie Meredith is a contributor to Live Science. She has a bachelor's degree from UCLA in psychology and has directed tourism and ski publications for the Salt Lake Visitor & Convention Bureau and managed promotions and events for Sunset Magazine.