While Google Voice and Skype get most of the VoIP attention because they're, well, Google and Skype, VoxOx appears committed to making them work for their reputations. Announced in Las Vegas for CES, VoxOx's Personal Assistant 2 is the latest update to the sub-features that provide inbound call management as part of the full VoxOx program.
From Southern California-based TelCentris, VoxOx for Windows and Mac is a free desktop multi-protocol program that supports standard instant messaging, social networking, and Voice over Internet Protocol. The upgraded Personal Assistant features focus on remote access, and that's really the killer feature here. Once you set it up on your desktop, you can use it on both smartphones and standard cell phones, which are far more prevalent than their apped-up cousins.
New features in the Personal Assistant 2 let you check voicemail, initiate a regular call or outbound conference calls of up to 20 people, and manage "Find Me" settings so that, for example, your wife can always reach your phone, but your boss can't--or vice versa. Other new features include remotely changing SMS callback settings--useful when traveling internationally, accessing Google 411, and performing callbacks. If you don't have Internet access while traveling, you can now make only one long-distance call to access the Personal Assistant and change your temporary number.
Personal Assistant 2 isn't all business. The new "soundboard" feature allows users to save audio clips and play them on the fly--think canned laughter or PC error messages, but user-initiated.
There are many similarities between Google Voice and VoxOx's older Personal Assistant features, but some that Google Voice doesn't offer include international call forwarding, hold music, caller-specific ringtones, live voicemail checking, DeadEnd for politely managing repeat callers you don't want to deal with, and fax receipt.
The Personal Assistant can also answer calls with a customized greeting in a male or female voice. Google Voice doesn't offer gender customization, but it can set the greeting remotely, which VoxOx still can't do. Like standard voicemail, the Personal Assistant is secured behind a PIN. Users can take advantage of the free number that VoxOx gives them, or keep their current number.
A free iPhone app is currently waiting approval from Apple's App Store, while Android and Palm Pre-based apps are currently being developed, according to Erik Bratt, Vice President of Corporate Communications at TelCentris. Transcription features similar to those that Google Voice offers are also planned for later this year.
VoxOx's previous stability problems and system downtime from when it first launched at the end of 2008 weren't an issue when the overall program updated to version 2 in the summer and launched the Personal Assistant, but I haven't been able to test the new features yet so it's unclear yet if those concerns have returned.