Grand Central

Centralized calls with web-based recording

Referring to the Mini Phone Recorder and the request for web-based recording solutions, I’ve been using Grand Central and Free Conference Call to record calls for a few months now. Both are free services, with Free Conference Call giving you the option to record calls between many many callers (up to 96 callers at the same time!). It works great, like, and registration is open to all. However, I really prefer Grand Central (owned by Google). The service’s main benefit is that you can route multiple numbers through one line. But it’s rather easy to record calls; you simply press 4, either from the moment you pick up or at specific times for parts. The call archives to your Grand Central Inbox, and you have the option of forwarding it on via email and also downloading it as an mp3. I prefer Grand Central because they provide you with an actual number people can call you at, and allow calls to that number to be forwarded to any other phones you have. This is especially useful in business situations or when you need to give out a number online. I mostly give the number to friends and family so that when they need to find me they just call that number and it will ring the places where I mostly am (home, cell phone, etc.), but I also use it when dealing with merchants who ask for a phone number so as to not give away a personal number. The added appeal of Grand Central is that you get email and/or SMS notifications whenever you have voicemail messages in the unlikely event that you miss the call. There’s also a “webcall” feature that allows you to initiate a call from the Grand Central web site and display that number (instead of your home/cell/work line) as caller ID to the person you are calling. The only downside is Grand Central is in beta and invite only last time I checked, but you can go online and request a number, and they’ll usually get you one in a few days.

— Ed Fonseca

When I requested a number from Grand Central, I received one the very next day. Once you’re in, you can invite 10 friends. I sent it to a few writer/journalist colleagues. Documenting interviews via cell phone on the fly is a truly remarkable development for any reporter, especially those used to being tethered to a desk with an old-fashioned phone tap. From the interviewee’s perspective, you always know when you’re being recorded because a voice prompt interrupts the call each time the interviewer presses 4. Grand Central has plenty of jazzy features — centralizing all your numbers alone is the main selling point — but eliminating the gray area of what’s on and off the record ranks high on my list. Also, just a reminder, the laws about recording on the phone vary by state in the US.

— Steven Leckart



(In 2009, Grand Central was discontinued and rolled into Google Voice. The features are different enough to warrant a new review. Please give us your feedback via the submit page. -- SL — editors)

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