Searching for UC With Google: Part 2
Google is in the UC business today, and Google has a proven tendency to change the rules of a given sector with new capabilities and new pricing models.
This is the second of a two-part article. Part 1 can be found here.
The following is the second portion of our summary of Google services from a UC perspective. The list is not exhaustive. It is organized by functional service areas.
Effective audio and/or video conferencing is another core component of unified communications. At this time, Google has a limited audio conferencing service associated with its Google Voice service. Video Conferencing is available through Google Talk using webcams. A new Android cell phone called the V1 by Saygus will offer Verizon wireless users a mobile solution for video conferencing. Google Talk's video isn't in the same league as Cisco's Telepresence, but is reasonably effective and inexpensive. It has practical uses, such as this teacher using it for a guest speaker.
At this time Google does not offer anything like Cisco's WebEx or Citrix's GoToWebinar for audio and web conferencing, but many of the tools are there. HiDef Conferencing, now owned by Citrix and previously part of Vapps, integrated with Gizmo5 for conferencing services. Additionally, Google's video chat is powered by Vidyo, which treats every participant in a conference individually with separate controls over up-stream and down-stream speeds via dynamic adjustment of bitrates and resolutions (Google limits its implementation to two participants, but Vidyo can accommodate many more). Vidyo uses H.264/SVC video compression and can avoid a centralized multipoint control unit (MCU). Gizmo5 supports H.264 SIP video as well.
Messaging is a critical component of unified communications, and includes both email and voice mail. Google's Gmail solution includes virus and spam protection. The service is available in multiple editions including consumer, business, government, and education versions. Voice mail service is available from both Google Voice and Google Talk. Gmail and Google Voice support in/out SMS messages, and as of recently, "Voicemail" is a reserved system label in Gmail. A recent new solution from Google Labs adds player capability inside the Gmail viewer. Gmail supports POP and IMAP, so it could be used with products like Microsoft Outlook.
--Translate: A simple solution for translating text between languages. Not terribly accurate, but often sufficient to determine topics and action necessary. Combining it with transcription services makes it possible to translate recordings in audio or video. This could be used for improved international project coordination and collaboration. Google just launched near-instant translation of speech.
--Speech Recognition: Google owns speech recognition technology best known through its Goog-411 automated directory assistance. This particular service translates a verbal request into a Google directory look-up. Once speech is converted to text, it can be manipulated and applied to multiple Google services including translation, queries, navigation.
--SMS: Gmail offers SMS messages from Gmail. Combined with Gmail filters, an SMS can be generated from inbound email such as a voice mail from a unified messaging server. This provides a viable work-around from the proprietary voice mail alerts from cell carriers.
Google Voice offers voice mail transcription and SMS alerts. The full Google Voice service currently requires a Google assigned number, but the service was recently modified to include a voice mail-only option with external numbers such as an existing cell phone number.
Google does not have a direct solution for inbound or outbound faxing other than using scanners and fax-to-email services and manipulating them via Gmail.