Did I miss something? Recently when I was looking up a business on Google Maps I saw a new feature — Click to Call.
To see my example do a Google Maps search for pizza in Beverly Hills. You’ll get in your list of search results an option to “Call” each result. Clicking on that option gives you a space to enter your phone number. When you enter your number Google calls the business for you and then calls your phone.
When I first saw this two things popped into my mind: “This provides far more opportunities for mischief than asking people if they have Prince Albert in a can,” and “Ack! My privacy.” Google addresses both these issues in their FAQ at http://maps.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=52512&topic=1467 .
First Google states that it uses your phone number only one time — to make the connection. However, the number is stored on your computer in a cookie. Details about privacy in click-to-call are available at http://www.google.com/help/privacy_clicktocall.html .
Second, Google states in its FAQ that “We use technical methods to prevent future prank calls from the same user within a reasonable period of time. You won’t be charged for any such calls.” There’s an e-mail address to contact if you suspect you’re being pranked, but it’s unfortunate that there’s no way you can “opt out” your phone number from this service.
So what’s the upside for this service? From a user point a view it’s the lack of long distance phone charges — Google notes in the FAQ that it pays for both long distance and local charge. The only thing the end user may be on the hook for is mobile phone air time.