A lot of us are stuck in a world of multiple means of connecting with people, but one of the core methods that will remain for the foreseeable future is the telephone. Granted, this devices is a far cry from what it was even a few years ago, but nonetheless, it is something that will be around for a while. We’ll need to make phone calls. We’ll need to receive phone calls.
The underlying function has remained the same, but the technology surrounding hasn’t and has been changing so rapidly it’s almost impossible to keep up with. More intelligent management of you phones is a great area to explore if you’re juggling multiple phones. Phone Amego aims to be your friend and help you to better manage your calling and call receiving.
What is Phone Amego?
Phone Amego’s function is to not only simplify your phone set up, but also to add functionality to it by taking advantage of tools you already use. It is able to manage multiple phones including cell phones like the iPhone via bluetooth, VoIP phones, and Google Voice among others. It brings all of your phones into one space and allows you to manage them in one package and in a useful manner.
The configuration of Phone Amego allows for many different methods of use. With the capability to connect to so many different devices it requires a little thought and consideration to set things up properly for your situation. Rather than wade through all the different possibilities I’ll take you through how I’ve set up Phone Amego and then touch on some other options and capabilities along the way.
I’ve recently moved to a new city and as luck would have it my apartment is an AT&T dead zone. My iPhone is nearly non-functional with the exception of standing in some choice locations and we do not have a landline, nor do we plan to get one.
I’ve turned to Google Voice combined with my Macbook to essentially be my home phone. I wasn’t all that thrilled with the interface and the need to make and receive calls via Google Chat so I began to look for some other options. I stumbled upon Phone Amego and with a 21 day trial it certainly seemed like it was worth a try.
As I mentioned, configuring the application has everything to do with how useful it ends up becoming. Right off the bat I’ll say that this application probably isn’t for everyone simply because it does require some thought and time to configure.
Let’s take a spin through some of the configuration options.
As you would probably have guessed this is where you’ll configure the core portions of Phone Amego. Here you’re able to set some preferences as well as manage your telephone devices. You can also work with some AppleScripts that are included in the application install to further customize the experience as well as check your recent call history.
A couple of the preferences are quite interesting and worth discussing further. For instance, it is possible to turn on call logging to iCal. What this does is create a separate iCal calendar that is used as a visual representation of your call log. Calls get logged as a calendar entry on the calendar you specifiy. This is a pretty nifty feature that requires next to no set up outside of checking a box. It provides you with a very nice visual reference of calls made and received.
The other preference is that of using Google Voice. I mentioned that I was using Google Voice and seeing that Phone Amego is able to directly connect to Google Voice was a draw for me. Setting up is as simple as entering your credentials for your Google Account. With that configured I’ll be able to use my Google Voice number as an answer point as well as a call from number.
There aren’t a lot of things here I’d personally need to mess with, but it’s nice to know there is all of this customization and added functionality available. Here you’ll be able to alter some dialing preferences to better suit your situation.
This area allows for some configuration of the call status display. You’ll have the option to use Growl for notification and to turn on the feature to tell Phone Amego to speak the caller name among other things. Here you’ll also be able to adjust some phone number lookup capability and reverse lookup capability. Phone Amego will first check your Address Book and then these options if you have them configured to find the caller ID information for a received call.
Sharing is a feature I’ve not currently tested, but the logic of how it works is pretty appealing. When others are using Phone Amego on your home network it is possible to share caller ID information with them. I don’t have the capability to fully test this functionality, but there are definitely some interesting possibilities here allowing you to further control all of your phones.
This is the area of other random configuration settings. Like I mentioned earlier, Phone Amego allows for an almost daunting amount of customization. Here you’ll find a place to set hot keys and default devices as well as some other miscellaneous configuration options.
More on My Situation
I don’t mean to bore all of you with too much information about my phone situation, but Phone Amego can be quite flexible and it’s probably a little tricky to totally see its validity without a little context. I’ll go through how I’ve attempted to use the application and run through the good things I’ve discovered and some of the issues I’ve had.
Google Voice and Notifications
The developer has paid special attention to Google Voice, which is fantastic for those of us that utilize the service. It’s great to be able to make calls right from Phone Amego rather than open up a Gmail window (making sure you have Google Chat turned on and set up for using Google Voice) and making calls through that browser window. Big points for cutting that out of the equation.
The one portion that I’ve personally had difficulty with is the call notification display when receiving a call to my Google Voice number. I’m not sure if I’m just missing something here, but I just couldn’t get the notification to pop when I have Google Voice set as my answer point.
I had no problems with the display when receiving calls to my cell phone. That worked perfectly and is a fantastic feature. My problem here is partially self inflicted as I’m using Google Voice and my Macbook as my main home number and phone (which I’ll admit is a bit out of the ordinary) because of poor cellular coverage at my house. If that wasn’t the case it would be easy to use my iPhone as the answer point device which Phone Amego would then handle beautifully.
I would argue that the most interesting and potentially most useful functionality of Phone Amego comes in its ability to connect with other applications and utilize them to expand its functionality.
When making a call you’re able to quickly browse to related content. Clicking on the Address Book button will open up the contact’s Address Book entry. Clicking on the Mail button and iCal button will open up those applications and search for messages and events related to the contact. Add to this call logging in iCal and you can see how Phone Amego becomes intertwined in applications and takes advantage of the information you’ve already spent time organizing and accumulating.
A Basic CRM
By adding the capability to keep notes tied to contacts within the application, Phone Amego acts as a basic Customer Relationship Management tool. Full-fledged applications in this category carry a lot more functionality, but the core features are here.
If you’re a small business owner and would just like to better keep track of your business contact communication, Phone Amego could be perfect. Keeping notes on calls and being able to search your Mac for related information could be a huge asset. Is this a replacement for a SalesForce type of tool? Definitely not, but if you’re just looking for some of the basic functionality of a CRM tool that works with your existing applications then this could be just the ticket.
For me, this could be an asset managing freelance client communication. Making notes on specific client phone calls as well as being able to jump to related information on my Macbook would only help to make me more efficient and organized. And the beauty of it is that I’m leveraging the applications I already use on a daily basis. There’s no need to completely buy in to another tool.
Phone Amego, as far as I can tell, is alone in providing this feature set within one package. It’s not the easiest feature set to wrap your head around, but I hope taking your through some specifics of my situation will help to put some context around this application.
I found the application because I was looking for some better ways to manage my phone situation in my new home. After spending some time with it, I have to say I’m still a bit torn as to whether it will become a part of my core application set. It is a fairly expensive application at $29.99 and that does make me step back some. I’m not saying that the cost isn’t justified, because I think it is, I’m just not sure it fits what I’m looking for right now.
Phone Amego can be found in the App Store, but the developer mentions that it may be slightly behind what you’ll find on their website and also has some functionality removed that conflicts with the App Store policy (which can be added later if needed). With the 21 day trial period I would highly recommend giving Phone Amego a try if you think it may be of use to you. It will take some effort to really get a feel for whether it will work for you or not. I think it has the potential to be a must have app for the right person. Meanwhile, let me get back to my testing. I’ve still got a couple weeks left to see if this will be the missing link in the puzzle that is my phone situation.