A Practical Review: Google Voice

Running my own business, I am more or less required to check my voicemail multiple times a day, which is why it’s so unfortunate that it’s one of my least favorite things to do. I have always found voicemail too linear, slow, clumsy, and a generally arduous process. That was until I found Google Voice.

Google Voice offers many different ways to customize how people call you, how you receive calls, and how you receive voicemails. Google also lets you pick and choose which aspects of Google Voice you want to utilize so it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Its also free and isn’t supported by ads!

Here’s the complete¬† Google Voice feature set:

  • Voicemail audio in your email inbox
  • Voicemail transcription in your email inbox
  • Voicemail transcription sent via SMS
  • Web access to voicemails
  • A single phone number that rings all your phones
  • Place calls via web interface
  • Send SMS via web interface
  • Keep an online address book
  • Log your call history
  • Custom greetings for different callers
  • Low cost International calling
  • Forward, embed, or download voicemails
  • Block calls
  • Send unwanted callers straight to voicemail
  • Record calls
  • Conference calls
  • Screen calls

That’s a whole lot of features to think about. The ability to use one or all of them was the selling point for me and probably the main reason the integration of Google Voice hasn’t negatively affected the other features of my phone/phone line/work flow.

The only feature I wanted to use in Google Voice was to be able to receive my voicemails via email. My work flow for managing and responding to emails was already bullet proof and simple: immediately flag emails that require me to do something and then unflag them once its been done. With my voicemails showing up in my inbox, now I can flag voicemails for followup in the same universally accessible platform as I flag emails. To activate this feature, all you have to do is go to the ’settings’ page in Google Voice and click, “activate Google Voicemail on this phone.”¬† Then they give you a number to dial based on your phone service provider which tells them to route your voicemail to Google.

While the email/SMS transcriptions are sometimes only 50% accurate, they are usally close to 90% intelligible if read phonetically. The audio files of the recording are also included in the email via an embedded player so you can cross check if necessary. Also, your old phone based voicemail will cease to function so make sure you have a data plan or you won’t be able to listen to your messages.

Currently, you can log in to your Google Voice account and place calls via the internet. Just type in a phone number and click ‘call’ – seconds later your phone will ring and as soon as you answer, the call begins ringing on the number your dialed online. FEATURE REQUEST: I would be on cloud 9 if Google would integrate this ‘internet dialing’ feature into general web browsing so that you could right-click any phone number on a website and ‘call’ it without ever having to transpose the number to your phone.¬† Google has been constantly adding features to Google Voice; hopefully this one isn’t far off.

I can highly recommend using Google Voice as your voicemail provider if you want to use your inbox as the hub for both your email and voicemail. As for the other features, you’ll have to experiment and find what’s right for you.

Written by Doogin

March 17th, 2010 at 8:22 am

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