Today sparks a new era in telephony. Today i received my invite to Google Voice. I have been very interested in Google Voice since it was originally called grandcentral. In this post I will give you a brief overview on some of the exciting features Google Voice. My next blog will take you though the setup process, which was quick and painless and more in depth with configuring the features for your needs.
For those of you who are not familiar with Google Voice, it is a “telephone management service” that is now offered by google. In today’s day and age many people have multiple phones accessible to them. I myself carry two cellphones, and I have a desk phone at work. But many people have more then that, multiple home phones, fax lines, cellphones, ect. The concept of Google Voice is to consolidate this down to 1 single number that people can call or send SMS Text messages to. At my job we were considering a service like this it was often referenced as “Find Me, Follow Me.” What happens is when someone calls your Google Voice number, it will call every phone number you have defined, in an attempt to “Find You”. When you answer whichever phone you are closes to, it will send the call to that phone, and drop all the other phones. But Google Voice has taken this a step further and added a plethora of features. Not only can you get voice mails from this system, but you can also have it forward your txts to all of your phones. With a service like this you can now freely switch telephone carriers, telephone numbers, switch jobs, ect and still be able to be contacted with your 1 main Google Voice number. Removing or adding a phone is very quick and easy. But Google Voice does not stop with find me follow me, lets look at some of the more interesting features:
Call Presentation: When you answer a Google Voice phone call, you are prompted with 3 options. “Press 1 if you would you like to answer a phone call from “bob” , press 2 if you would like to send “bob” to voicemail, or 3 if you would like toListenIn™ (Screening Phone Calls) to “bob” as he leaves a voicemail. Google uses your google contacts to actually speak the name of the person who is calling you. If the caller is not in your contacts, it will ask for the callers name, then ring your phones, when you answer you will be prompted with the callers recorded name. Whats interesting about this, if you don’t want to talk to the person you can send them to voicemail, but listen to the message they are leaving, and you have the option to jump into the call if you want to talk to them.
SMS: Google Voice manages your text messages much like google email manages your email. On the Google Voice website your can browse your text (and voicemail) messages and reply to them with a click of a button. If you are not at your computer they will be fwd to your mobile phone. The only downside i see to this right now, is that incoming messages to you show a 406 XXX XXXX number, but out going messages will show your Google Voice number. I am unsure at this time how to initiate a text msg to someone using Google Voice from your phone.
Voicemail: Google Voice now provides you with one voicemail box, you no longer need to check 3-4 different mailboxes to see all your messages. But in typical google fashion, they have taken it a step further. When you get a voicemail, google will actually transcribe the message into text, within a matter of moments and email, or text message, the transcribed text to you.
Groups: Google Voice has setup a feature on how to manage the incoming calls. You can setup “user” groups to enable a few cool features. You can setup a group to only Ring certain phones. For example, Work colleagues, when calling your number would only ring on your desk phone at work, and your work cellphone, and not your personal cellphone, or home phone. But in Classic Google Fashion, you can also present them with custom greetings and turn on or off call presentation settings.
These are just the handful of great features I have found with Google Voice. I have only now had an account for about 5 hours, and only time will tell how well these features work, and how many new Jems are waiting to be found.
The Google Voice Website can be found at: http://www.google.com/voice/
Best of all Google Voice is FREE!