Google Voice: How it Can Change How You Use the Phone


Google announced yesterday that Google Voice is now open to everyone with a U.S. telephone number. Until now, you had to get an invite from someone who was invited to use it.

What is it? It’s a nifty Internet phone service that works with your existing phones and gives pretty good competition to Skype. Here’s what makes it so awesome:

  • You link your existing phone numbers (land line, cell phone, work phone) to the Google Voice number. When someone calls it, all those phones ring.
  • Google Voice stores your voicemail and can send you SMS and/or e-mails with transcripts of the message.

Not so awesome:

  • The transcription is far from perfect. But you can get enough info to identify the caller and listen to audio of the message.

You can also view a list of voicemail messages and delete unwanted ones. Yes, you can do that on an iPhone. But this allows you to do it from your computer or mobile device.

Speaking of mobile devices, you can use the Google Voice mobile app to send SMS messages without charges from your cellular carrier.

And all that is free. (You do pay to use it to call landlines and international numbers.)  If you’d like to see more about the service, you’ll be happy to know that Google’s put up some video demos of its key features.

Will you start using Google Voice?  Have you been using Google Voice and – if so – how does it work for you?


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Carl Natale is a freelance blogger who writes about tips and advice for small businesses. He runs the site Expensiccino.com - a site about how top brands set their prices.

Discussion

  1. Wow looks like some useful features. I never really understood Google Voice, but now I do.

    I think the ability to “link your existing phone numbers (land line, cell phone, work phone) to the Google Voice number. When someone calls it, all those phones ring.” is awesome!

    Bud sadly, it is not available outside US, right?

    I do look forward to it being introduced in more countries. I would like to use it.

    Nabeel

  2. Erin Wiles on the 23rd June

    I have been using Google voice since it was GrandCentral. I love it! The forwarding calls feature is very handy. Plus, since I am a freelancer and google voice allows me to block numbers as needed, I can provide my google number on my website without worry of yahoos taking advantage.

  3. Mark Christianson on the 23rd June

    I launched a new website/buisness and wanted to offer a contact phone for the site as well as the business cards I was having made up. Using Google Voice allows me to have calls come to home OR cell phone (or both) and avoid giving out my REAL phone numbers.

  4. Gregory Pike on the 23rd June

    Yea, I’ll get excited when this is available in Canada.

  5. Janet Martin on the 23rd June

    I would love to use Google Voice, but I’m in Canada as well. Some day….

  6. Melissa Breau on the 23rd June

    I use google voice as my business number. One of my favorite features, not mentioned above, is that it lets you record incoming calls. It will announce that it’s going to start recording, but for a journalist, this is a fantastic feature. Google then saves the audio file for you in your google voice account, meaning you can access it from anywhere, at anytime while working on a story. It also means you don’t need a digital voice recorder or some other external device.

    I’m sure there are apps for that, but for someone without an iPhone … this was pretty exciting for me.

  7. Robert on the 23rd June

    I’ve been using google voice for quite awhile now, since it was GrandCentral.com I use it for interviews that I’m doing. It makes it so much easier that I don’t need to have my laptop or any equipment with me to record an interview, I just give them the number and away I go. It’s also great at reducing / removing background noise.

  8. Carl Natale on the 23rd June

    Found some more ideas for using Google Voice at

  9. HowToPlaza on the 23rd June

    The funny thing is, most Internet articles and blogs say, “Google voice is now available to everyone” and then somewhere you read “everyone with a US number.” :-)

  10. Rob on the 23rd June

    I was psyched this has opened up to everyone. I’ve been using it in beta for what feels like 6-8 months now and I use it heavily for texting and routing phone calls. I bootstrap my small business (which is in training and providing tech support for entrepreneurs) and it’s invaluable. Txts via computer are 10x easier, and transcribed calls allow me to reply via e-mail. Those are killer features. It’s a little tricky to understand at first (glad to help anyone who needs it) but it’s a solid tool. In my “use every day” stack.

  11. Jetrois on the 24th June

    Wow for a work site you’ve barely touched on the most useful aspects of GV, namely bei g able to set call rustication times number privacy. Annoying call blocking, call screening the list goes on I’ve been using it for ever I don’t even remember my real phone number!

    • Mike Vardy on the 24th June

      We’ll definitely be looking deeper into Google Voice now that it has been released for eveyone in the US to try (and use).

      Hang tight, we’re on it.

  12. Steve Griffin on the 29th June

    I think one of the biggest benefits of the service is that you technically should never have to change your phone number. If you use Google Voice as your primary number that you distribute to other people, when you get a new cell phone or home number you just hook them up to your Google Voice account and it forwards calls to the new numbers.

    Overall, the technology is pretty slick.

  13. charles allen on the 1st July

    Am suprised that no one mentioned the free long distance! I use google voice at home and it has changed my world (at least as far as calling goes). Simple as dialing “9” from a work phone (preset on my speed dial) and I can call usa & canada numbers free. My cellphone usage has dropped so dramatically that I am thinking of going from my unlimited plan to something much smaller and less expensive. P.s., GV works great on my android phone too!

  14. thomas e slother on the 10th July

    i’ve been using google’s free phone since it’sstart , but now, i cant call the people i had been calling these past years. my history shows these friends names and thier numbers;ive aways paid for my international calls, and just reasently added $20.00 to my google account, and still recieve ZERO calling service WHAT’S HAPPENNING @ ” NEW-GOOGLE” ?? HAVE THEY ELIMENATED ME AND MY ACCOUNT WITH THEM ? PLEASE ANSWER (ASP) “THOMAS”

  15. RSR on the 3rd August

    It does not cost anything to call a land line with Google Voice, I do it all the time.

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