God Of Nothing

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Google Voice, Dial Me In!

Google Voice

I am constantly amazed by how many techno-savvy people I run into on an almost daily basis that have never even heard of Google Voice (GV), probably one of the best communication tools on the Net and its FREE.  Where else can you get a free local telephone number that you can configure to ring your mobile phone, your home phone, and your work phone, all at the same time, only Google.

Actually, I’ve never really been a Google fan, Gmail looks a little slapped together, I prefer Windows Live Mail, which has a downloadable client which is part of Windows Live EssentialsGoogle Sites, their free websites don’t look as professional as Microsoft Office Live Small business, although they are doing better and Microsoft has started charging for the once free service.  All that said, you’ve probably guessed I’m a Microsoft guy at heart.  However, Google does have some beautiful products that work better than anything else on the market.  Google offers by far the best search engine on the Net,Picasa is an incredible photo sharing package, and Google Voice, well read on.

I first heard about GV in July on 2009 when it was in beta.  A friend had told me about it and ten minutes later I was online signing up for an invitation and watching the promotional videos on their site.  It took three days to receive the GV invitation.  I was really excited and wasted no time signing up – today you can just signup for a GV number without waiting for an invitation – and choosing my new GV number.   Since then I have used GV almost daily from everything work related calls to selling items on Craigslist and all at the same time keeping my personal mobile number private.  I give out my GV number instead of my mobile number so much that I think only three to five people have my actual mobile.

Originally, Google Voice wasn’t Google at all, but a company called Grand Central, that charged members a monthly fee to use their service.  Google acquired them in 2007 and brought it online as a free service.  Now you can even port your GV number to some mobile carriers.  In my case, I like having both my mobile number and my GV number, but some may choose otherwise for any number of reasons.  Sprint customers will soon be able to use all of Google Voice’s features with either their Sprint number or in combination with a GV number.

GV comes with many useful and well thought out features. The main feature is that when your GV number is called, you can configure it to ring several phone numbers at once, such as your mobile phone, your home phone, and your work phone, as well as your Google Chat applet.  This is useful, especially if you have a more expensive mobile plan, although it can be alarming in the beginning when your mobile and desk phones start ringing at the same time and you’re not quite sure which to answer first.

One of my favorite features is the ability to set the hours your GV number is allowed to ring.  This is very useful for work related calls that you don’t want to receive while you are at home with your family or on the weekends.  Many companies are allowing the use of personal mobile phones for work use.  This saves the companies money by only having to pay their employees a stipend, great for them, bad for you.  It allows your fellow staff members access to your mobile number to call you whenever they want.  With a GV number, you just configure your times and those calls go directly to voicemail.  You can also set up groups within your contacts that allow you to set who is screened, which of your numbers are called, or who is sent directly to voicemail.

Which brings us to voicemail and transcribed voicemail that is sent to your email account.  The voicemail feature is basically just like any other voicemail system.  You call your number, listen to your voicemail, keep it, delete it, whatever.  The transcribed voicemail is a great feature.  Each time a voicemail is left; it is transcribed, and then sent to your email inbox.  The only drawback is that the transcription is done by computer and sometimes your message looks nothing like it sounds, but at least you do have a link to the original voicemail.

The last great feature I am going to mention is the SMS feature.  Free text messaging from the Google Voice web page, from your email and from your mobile phone, once configured.  This cuts down your costs if you have a limited text plan on mobile.

If you are like me, you have a smart phone and Google helps you there too.  There are versions of the GV apps for the iPhone, Blackberry, and of course, Android phones.  Third party apps are also available depending on your phone.  Google Voice offers so much and at the great price of free, you can’t beat it.  However, as a disclaimer, International calls do cost but are very cheap, and your mobile phone carrier will charge you for your calls because they are generally greedy but in the two and a half years I’ve used GV, I’ve never been charged for its use.  Just make sure you add your GV number to your A-List, Top 5 or whatever your carrier calls the few numbers you are allowed to call free.

Check it out at the link below.  Let me know what you think or if you are a current user, I’d love to hear from you as to how you use it.

http://www.google.com/voice

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May 15, 2011 - Posted by | Technology | , , , , ,

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