Google Voice is Your Own Personal Receptionist

Posted by AfroWhitey | Computers | Friday 10 July 2009 2:35 pm

picture-2

Some of my more astute readers may have noticed the little box to the left that appeared not too long ago. It’s the one that says “Call Me,” and it’s all powered by Google Voice. All you have to do is enter your phone number and the robots at Google will call you and me simultaneously, allowing us to connect and discuss your technology needs. I know, it’s amazing, and it doesn’t end there.

Google Voice is a free service that allows you to manage your contacts and phone calls in a way you never could before. It’s invite-only at this point, but you can get your invite here and they’ve been rolling it out slowly to those that have requested invites. I got mine a couple weeks ago.

On to the features.

The short video above provides a great overview and you can find more information on Google’s own about page. Basically, Google gives you one phone number to rule all your other phone numbers. For example, if you call my Google number (or click the box to the left) and you happen to be my wife, both my cell phone and my home phone will ring so I can be sure to hear it. If I don’t answer, she’s greeted by a special voicemail greeting that no one else can hear. If you’re a member of my family and I don’t answer, you get another greeting. If I haven’t entered your number in my Google Contacts, just my cell phone will ring, and if I don’t answer, you’ll get the standard greeting.

Google Voice Inbox

You can also set it to go straight to voicemail when you receive a call from specified numbers (very helpful for telemarketers) and you can record any call in progress (helpful for telemarketers and customer support calls). Any voicemail or recording is automatically stored in your Google Voice Inbox, where you can play it or read Google’s attempted transcription of the recording (still a work in progress as you can see in the screenshot). I have it set to text message me whenever I miss a call or receive a voicemail, so I can read the voicemail transcription without even calling. It makes a great business phone for any freelancer.

You can also send text messages and start your calls right from the Inbox. Other nice Inbox features are voicemail emailing, recorded call emailing, and text message emailing. You can send pretty much anything recorded to anyone you want. It’s all integrated seamlessly with Google’s other services.

All-in-all, it’s a great service that will only get better. There are rumors of Google porting their service through your existing numbers in the future, which would negate the hassle of telling everyone in your address book about the new number. Until then, Lifehacker has a great post on how to ease your transition to Google Voice.

It’s a cinch to set up. You just choose an area code, then either pick from a list of available numbers or try to make up your own (none of my word combinations were available in my area code). You then give it an existing phone number to work with, it calls to verify, and you’re good to go!

So go ahead, sign up for an invite and let me know what you think. And as always, feel free to ask me any questions, or call me using the fancy new box to the left! Oh, and don’t forget to become a fan on the Facebook page. I’ll be sharing links and other gems over there.