One of Google’s most useful services is Google Voice, which provides users with one number where their friends, clients, and colleagues can always reach them. This is great news for anyone who’s sick of checking their home, work, and mobile voicemail every time they miss a call. But Google Voice has a lot more to offer than just consolidation; you get free voicemail transcription, the ability to screen and block callers, personalized greetings for different callers, and free texting.
Getting a Google Voice number is as easy as going to www.google.com/voice and signing in with a Gmail account. From there, you can choose your area code and phone number, or have one assigned to you. If you’re a Sprint customer, you can now port your mobile number directly to Google Voice, enabling you to keep in touch no matter where you are without having to worry about changing numbers.
Even if you’re not ready to fully give up your phone number to Google, there are still numerous useful features for those willing to try it out. Here’s how to get the most out of Google Voice.
Your Google Voice number is capable of ringing on your landline, mobile phone, and computer simultaneously. It’s also customizable by the time of day, so all of your phones don’t ring when you’re at home in the evening. To ring multiple lines:
It’s possible to send and receive texts through your Google Voice number, the Google Voice app on your smartphone, and through Gmail. To send a text through the Google Voice desktop, click Text. Then enter a recipient and your message. However, sending texts through your Gmail account keeps all of your correspondence in one place and saves on texting costs.
To send texts to your Gmail:
It’s easy to share a funny voicemail with a friend.
Google Voice works like an old-school answering machine. If you prefer not to answer unknown callers, you can jump in at any time to answer.
Google Voice will transcribe your voicemails automatically. On the desktop interface and in the app, the transcriptions appear in your voicemail inbox. Each word is highlighted as the message audio plays back. Once transcribed, voicemails are searchable via word, phrase, and a person’s name. Clicking Transcript Useful? at the bottom of a transcription gives you the option of “donating” your voicemail to Google for improving their transcription. Google Voice also lets you send voicemail transcriptions as text messages and e-mails. To enable either of these options:
Greet your coworkers with one message and your friends with another. You can even specify which phone rings based on who’s calling. Here’s how:
You can record calls you receive, but not ones you make. To record a Google Voice call, press 4 during the call. A voice will say, “This call is now being recorded.” When the call is over, you can listen to the recording on either the Google Voice desktop or from the Google Voice app. From the desktop, clicking the More link gives you the option of downloading, e-mailing, or embedding the conversation on a website.
Google Voice offers free conference calls for up to four other parties. Simply have everyone call your Google Voice number at an appointed time. As people ring, add them to the call by pressing 5 when prompted. They’ll automatically be added, and you’ll have your meeting off to a smooth start.
Using a Google Lab plug-in, you can play a voicemail directly from the e-mail transcription copy of a Google Voice message.
Use a combination of the Google Voice desktop and the Google Voice app to connect with friends overseas. Though it’s not completely free, Google Voice lets you call many countries for rates as low as 2 cents per minute. Google starts everyone out with $0.10 of calling credit, and it’s easy to add more and check rates via the left-hand column of your Google Voice inbox.
From your desktop:
From any cell phone:
From the Google Voice Android app: