Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Last week, after nearly two years of waiting, Google Voice finally enabled number porting — the highly requested feature that lets you transfer an existing phone number to Google’s powerful telephony service. And then, just as everyone was getting excited, the feature disappeared. But now it’s back.
Turns out last week’s number porting launch was just a test (which is why Google didn’t announce it). Given the logistical hurdles involved it’s not really surprising that Google wanted to kick the tires first, and now it looks like they’re pleased with the results. Google Voice number porting is going live today for all existing accounts, and new accounts will be able to use number porting in the next few weeks.
The feature costs $20 to enable, and it comes with plenty of strings attached. When you port your number away from your carrier, you’ll likely automatically cancel your existing contract and will be charged an early termination fee that can run hundreds of dollars. It’s possible to avoid this fee by getting a new number from your carrier and keeping the contract alive, but that process will involve calling the carrier (likely more than once) to help you through the process.
Once you’ve agreed to plenty of warnings and paid your $20, your number will be transfered to Google Voice within 24 hours. You won’t miss any calls, but there’s a three day window where you may be missing text messages.
It’s a hassle, but, having gone through it myself, I think it’s totally worth it. Whether you like being able to more effectively screen your calls, or you have multiple phones, or you just like making phone calls from Gmail (which is awesome), Google Voice packs a lot of power, and it’s likely going to become even more useful over the coming years.
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Video: IRS2Go: English
IR-2011-8, Jan. 24, 2011
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today unveiled IRS2Go, its first smartphone application that lets taxpayers check on their status of their tax refund and obtain helpful tax information.
"This new smart phone app reflects our commitment to modernizing the agency and engaging taxpayers where they want when they want it," said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. "As technology evolves and younger taxpayers get their information in new ways, we will keep innovating to make it easy for all taxpayers to access helpful information."
The IRS2Go phone app gives people a convenient way of checking on their federal refund. It also gives people a quick way of obtaining easy-to-understand tax tips.
Apple users can download the free IRS2Go application by visiting the Apple App Store. Android users can visit the Android Marketplace to download the free IRS2Go app.
"This phone app is a first step for us," Shulman said. "We will look for additional ways to expand and refine our use of smartphones and other new technologies to help meet the needs of taxpayers."
The mobile app, among a handful in the federal government, offers a number of safe and secure ways to help taxpayers. Features of the first release of the IRS2Go app include:
Get Your Refund Status
Taxpayers can check the status of their federal refund through the new phone app with a few basic pieces of information. First, taxpayers enter a Social Security number, which is masked and encrypted for security purposes. Next, taxpayers pick the filing status they used on their tax return. Finally, taxpayers enter the amount of the refund they expect from their 2010 tax return.
For people who e-file, the refund function of the phone app will work within about 72 hours after taxpayers receive an e-mail acknowledgement saying the IRS received their tax return.
For people filing paper tax returns, longer processing times mean they will need to wait three to four weeks before they can check their refund status.
About 70 percent of the 142 million individual tax returns were filed electronically last year.
Get Tax Updates
Phone app users enter their e-mail address to automatically get daily tax tips. Tax Tips are simple, straightforward tips and reminders to help with tax planning and preparation. Tax Tips are issued daily during the tax filing season and periodically during the rest of the year. The plain English updates cover topics such as free tax help, child tax credits, the Earned Income Tax Credit, education credits and other topics.
Follow the IRS
Taxpayers can sign up to follow the IRS Twitter news feed, @IRSnews. IRSnews provides the latest federal tax news and information for taxpayers. The IRSnews tweets provide easy-to-use information, including tax law changes and important IRS programs.
IRS2Go is the latest IRS effort to provide information to taxpayers beyond traditional channels. The IRS also uses tools such as YouTube and Twitter to share the latest information on tax changes, initiatives, products and services through social media channels. For more information on IRS2Go and other new media products, visit www.IRS.gov.
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