AOL has almost always been on my bad side. Well, not quite bad, just not on the good side.
So, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that AOL is doing something really great. They are offering their AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) customers with a free local number. People can then call directly to you and talk to you whenever you are logged into instant messenger.
There is a small catch. They do charge for outgoing calls and as far as I know, you cannot forward the incoming calls to your cell phone.
But, this solution is perfect for me. At my house (near the edge of Verizon’s known universe) getting cell phone service is a lot like playing the lottery: You usually don’t come out that great, but when you do win it makes you happy.
Now, If I am having a typical Not-So-Great-Cell-Phone-Signal-In-Minneota day, I can tell the person to call my AOL number. Then we can talk for free over the internet.
AOL is also being smart with this new endeavor.Â For one thing, they are opening up to developers and awarding prizes to the “best” applications developed using the API. This will speed development tremendously and hopefully make it into an even better product.
One thing that would work great about this is if you frequently travel to places where your cellphone cannot be used. People can still conveniently send you voice mails to the AOL number, and you can receive them from any computer. Of course if you wish to call back through AOL, it will cost you, but in the mean time, it costs nothing to get the voicemail.
So, go check it out, get a new “backup” number and tell your friends!