Google Voice

Google seems to be everywhere. Google practically monopolizes my time on the internet. My blog here ( is obviously on a Google service, I look at my Google Reader about every 5 minutes to keep up to date, and I only search on Google, unless for some reason Google is down and then I resort to some other service. A year or so ago, Google came out with a new service called Google Voice that I have been using.

Check out the above video to see what Google Voice is all about. A simple way to manage all of your phones and manage your contacts and a lot of other stuff. I wanted to do a quick review of the service, the things I like and the things I think could be better.

After signing up for the service (you will pick a phone number for yourself and a couple of other things), you get the main Google Voice page. If you use any other Google services, then the layout will feel familiar and intuitive. Like most of the Google services (Gmail, Reader, etc.) you can archive your old messages, star the important ones and delete the useless ones. Nothing too spectacular other than the fact that you can hold onto the messages for as long as you like. At some point during the setup process, you have to enter a current telephone number that you already have.

You can see from the above screenshot that the setup is pretty straightforward and you determine when calls come through on the phone you setup. There are a ton of different options from here and I will just cover a few of my favorite. First up, I love that I can use my Google Voice number for texting instead of my regular cell phone. When people write me, I can have the SMS forwarded onto my cell phone, sent to me in an e-mail, or just sit in my Voice inbox. Since I am not very good at writing text messages using my phone, I much prefer to type answers on my keyboard.

Another feature that I love is that I can access my messages from anywhere when I miss a phone call. On top of that, people have to say their name when they call me from an unknown number so when I pick the phone up, it tells me who is calling (as they state it). If I don't answer or reject the call, they leave a message (you can customize what message people here based off of what group you put them in - for example, I have a custom message for my wife that she hears when she calls that is different from what others hear) and that message is available to me by calling my Google Voice number from my phone, but also available to me online to listen to. There is also the option to transcribe the message to text but it could definitely use some work. Anyways, since I am online most of the time, I will typically find out that I missed a call through my e-mail rather than seeing it on my phone.

That is just a quick overview of the things I like. There are a couple of things on my wishlist. Currently, you have to have a phone to actually use Google Voice (in other words you need a cell phone or home phone to actually place calls). Ok, so that isn't completely true. However, you could have an account with Gizmo5 but Google recently acquired the company and it is no longer open for registration (you can enter your e-mail to be notified when it opens again). So I really wish that Gizmo5 was opened up again.

Also, I wish there was an easier way to call people using my Google Voice number from my cell phone. In order to call people I have to either call my Google Voice number and then enter the person's phone number that I want to call (or retrieve a saved GV number), or else I have to enter the person's phone number into the GV interface online. I'm not sure what the better solution is, but it would be awesome if there was some easier way.

The final feature that would be really nice is if you could add a phone number that had an extension involved. I would prefer to forward calls to my work phone during work hours, however this isn't possible because my phone number is behind an extension.

Overall, I have been quite pleased with Google Voice and would definitely recommend using it. Let me know what you like or dislike about the service.

A couple things:
Whenever I give out my phone number, I give my Google Voice number. I have updated all of my credit cards, services, and such things to use my Google Voice number as well. The only people who have my cell phone number is my family really, and that is because I just haven't informed them of the new number. I prefer people to call the Google Voice number though since I like to have a searchable record of my calls.


Bradwich said...

Pretty cool overview--thanks! I think I might take the plunge once we get moved.