Over the coming weeks, UK-style phone booths will pop-up around the US in airports and at universities, allowing anyone to make free calls to anywhere in the world. The promotion is designed to spread awareness of the Google Voice service. Below, a look inside the booth, including a video of it in action.
Google’s actually had one of these booths on its campus in Mountain View for some time. They look like old British phone boxes. There’s double irony in that. The UK doesn’t actually use this style of phone booth any longer (you’ll still see old ones in various places, however), and Google Voice calls aren’t offered in the UK. Still, the booth is fun:
Inside, it looks like an old-style dial phone:
You pick up the handset, hear a little Google Voice greeting, then enter the number you wanted. It feels a bit weird to enter a # symbol at the end of your dialing. However, I didn’t realize this was required at first — and it worked OK.
The sound quality is very clear. The biggest issue is that you have to wait about 10 to 15 seconds for your call to be processed. That’s a switching delay that Google hopes to fix soon.
No particular airports are named, though the first university to get one of the phones will be likely be Arizona State University. How many booths? Google won’t say other than in the dozens.
Below, a video of the booth in action, where I’m talking with Google Voice product marketing manager Jason Toff:
Also see our Google Voice + Gmail = Free Voice Calls For Those In US story for more about the overall story about Google Voice getting a bit push by being integrated into Gmail.