Google’s latest feature, Google Voice, offers users free calling within the US and low-cost international calls and numerous additional features for the remainder of the year. Will you try it out?
What Is It?
Google Voice is a phone component of Google’s email client, Gmail. Its features may be used through Gmail, a dedicated app, or by calling the Google Voice number.
Messages are automatically transcribed to text so that they may be read, rather than listened to. This allows for receiving messages in many environments that are not conducive to listening. It also makes message content searchable for later reference. Copies of voicemail transcripts may also be shared via email.
One Number for All
Users can choose one telephone number for all of their phones (cell, home, business) or customize their account for calls to be channeled to certain phones during certain hours.
Users can record customized greetings for various voice mail accounts. This is easily accomplished by editing the settings in the contact list and assigning a greeting to each contact.
By placing international calls through Google Voice, users can make calls for extremely reduced rates. The call may be initiated online within the Google Voice program. A user simply enters the contact number and the call will be routed to the users’ phone and connected. Calls can be made directly through a phone, but the user must call the Google Voice number first to initiate the service.
SMS to Email
Text messages to a user’s Google Voice number will appear on their phone and inbox voice account. Copies may be sent to the users email account and even replied to via Gmail that will then convert the reply to SMS and send to the contact’s phone. For those who pay per text message, this will offer a significant savings.
Block Annoying Callers
Within the Google Voice application, users may choose the number that they wish to block. Those calls will be redirected to a “Not in Service” message.
Any call may be answered or manually sent to voice mail when it comes in. Once the caller begins leaving a message, the Google Voice user can choose to answer the call and discontinue the voice mail process.
The mobile Google Voice app is available for Blackberry, iPhone, and Android phones. Calls or SMS messages are all free when placed through the app.
To initiate a conference call, users have participants call their Google number. When the call comes in, the user will be asked whether to add caller to conference call.
Will You Pay?
At the end of the year, Google hints that the Voice app will no longer be free, but declines to mention what the charges will be. Will people become so hooked on it that they are willing to pay to continue?