What is Google Voice?
I've been hearing on and off for a while about this slick new answering service I can sign up for called Google Voice. A part of Google, obviously, but I haven't figured out how to sign up for it or even how to learn what it is. Can you enlighten me?
Google Voice is a front-end telephone number that allows you to control incoming calls in new and clever ways. It is not a phone service, to use Google Voice you must already have a working telephone number.
In the early email days, our email address was closely tied to our Internet Service provider – say AOL.com. You could use that email as long as you were a customer of AOL. Now, many people prefer to separate their email and their Internet service – say hotmail.com. This way, if you move or change your Internet service, you don’t have to update everyone with a new address.
Google Voice can use in a similar way. Instead of providing people your cell number, your home number, and your work number, you could just provide the Google Voice Number. Then, log in to the Google Voice web portal and tell it how to route calls based on multiple criteria. For example, you can ring all of your numbers simultaneously and take the call wherever you are. Or you can screen calls so that only known contacts ring your phone and others go to voice mail.
Google voice offers a single voice mail box for all callers – and once a voice mail is recorded, both the audio and transcribed text are sent to you via email and/or SMS. The service also allows for four person teleconferencing any time. All Google Voice services are completely free of charge, except for outbound international calling which is offered at very low prepaid rates.
Google Voice is independent of your phone choices – so you can freely change your carriers and numbers without missing calls. There are a number of powerful features included in Google Voice – the primary features are a clever solution to ring all of your phones at the same time, a single voice mail box that will send your messages to your email as well as transcribe them to text and send them SMS to your phone. Other valuable features include call recording, conference calling, and free domestic calls and SMS texts.
Oh, and signing up? You can go to google.com/voice/ but you'll find that it's still "coming soon" and not yet ready for signups.
This blog entry was written by contributing editor Dave Michels, Telecommunications Protagonist at Pin Drop Soup.com and Principal of Buffalo Communications, Denver.
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