What Is Google Voice?
I'm a little confused by Google Voice. It seems like a way to get free phone service, but that sounds too good to be true. Can you explain what Google Voice is, and is not?
Free Phone Service With Google Voice
Google Voice is a free enhanced telephone management service that works with your existing phone number and carrier, or all on its own. It includes features you want but will never get from a telephone carrier service because carriers can't make money off them.
Take caller-blocking, for example. Carriers make money by the talk-minute, so they don't want you to block any callers. Google Voice is free, so it lets you block callers by caller-ID. Think of all the people from whom you never want to hear again. With Google Voice, you won't.
Phone number portability is another highly desirable feature that phone carriers don't want to offer. Many charge $5, $10, even $15 to transfer your phone number to one of their competitors. If you get a Google Voice phone number, it's yours for life free of charge.
Forward it to any phone carrier's number you like and when people call your Google Voice number, they reach you. Change carriers and leave the old carrier's number behind. Just forward your Google Voice number to the new carrier's number. No charge.
Free Voicemail, Message Transcriptions and More…
Carriers charge you to listen to voicemail, even charging for the time you spend navigating their deliberately complicated voicemail command menus. Google voicemail can be set to automatically forward a WAV file of a voice message to your email inbox, where you can listen to it in one mouse click. It can even transcribe voicemail into a semblance of English, although this feature is as imperfect as any text-to-speech application.
SMS text messaging on a phone is tricky with those tiny buttons or imprecise touchscreens. With Google Voice you can send text messages to any SMS-enabled phone number from a full-sized keyboard. Text message conversations are threaded just like Google Mail so you can keep track of the back and forth exchange. You can search text messages just like you search email.
You get one recorded greeting with most phone carriers… "Hi, this is X, please leave your message…" With Google Voice you can store multiple greetings customized for individual callers or groups of callers. Have one greeting for business contacts; another for friends; one for each of your loved ones; etc.
A Free Phone Number?
You don't even need a phone service carrier to use Google Voice. You can't make outbound calls but you can receive voicemail, and both send and receive text messages via your Google Voice phone number. Add a free or low-cost Internet phone service such as Skype for outbound calls and you have a complete telephony package for nothing or very close to it!
A Google Voice number also does conference calls; lets you hear who is calling before you answer (call screening); lets you download voicemails and forward them via email as embedded or attached files; record calls and store them online. It treats voice data just like any other data, allowing virtually unlimited flexibility in how you store, process, and manage it.
With a Google Voice account, you gain features that phone carriers won't offer or will charge hefty fees to provide. You have one phone number permanently, no matter what number you are actually "at". Simply put, Google Voice simplifies mobile communications, for free.
If you use Google Voice, post a comment and tell me about your experience with it. Or feel free to ask a question using the comment box below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 7 Dec 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- What Is Google Voice? (Posted: 7 Dec 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved