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Google Voice

Google's new phone number management system, currently in beta

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This is going to be huge...

  • Jul 12, 2009
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Google Voice, formerly GrandCentral and not to be confused with Google Talk, seems to be sending out invititations to people who signed up for the beta program in the last few months. I received mine a few days ago and have been testing the platform ever since.

Setting up Google Voice is very simple: you select an area code and find an available phone number (pattern searching with words or sequences is allowed). The new phone number becomes a forwarding point for all your other phone numbers, enabling incoming calls to Google Voice to hunt on every other number you provide.

But rather than simply provide virtual forwarding, which is part of many voice-over-IP systems, there are a range of other features that essentially start to fuse the world of email and voicemail. Among the most impressive is the ability to transcribe voicemails and provide an email or SMS containing the contents of the caller’s message as text, while also being smart enough to extract contact information to make return calls easy. Everything I’ve seen from Google in the last year – from translation, Wave to Voice – signals to me that voice recognition, spelling and grammer correction and translation capabilities are about to mature very rapidly. Google Voice also learns from the errors it makes, which seem to be few and far between, and handles background noise and accents more seamlessly than any other phone system I’ve seen to date.

Apart from this innovation, the management of voicemail works very similarly to Gmail and is accessible from smart phones such as the new HTC Magic. For users who receive voicemail regularly, this significantly eases the problem of having to listen to every message and cuts voicemail management time down to seconds.

Other features include:

  • Free calls and SMS messages to every phone number in the continental US (currently $2.95 a month on Skype).
  • Low international rates that are comparable to Skype.
  • Effective call screening, allowing you to maintain a blocked list of number with automated identification requests.
  • Live listening to callers leaving voicemails.
  • Answering incoming calls on any registered phone.
  • Greetings can be personalized by caller.
  • Recording and storing calls (this is a common theme since it maintains SMS records too).
  • Webpage integration (click to call).
  • The ability to change your Google phone number for $10.

There are more features in the pipeline. I presume that the same way Gmail adopted corporate requirements such as email retention, Google will focus on similar needs that make Voice a compelling replacement for existing traditional systems. Skype has not been particularly successful in making inroads on the corporate market, so it will be interesting to see Google’s success as this product develops. So essentially, beta testers right now are receiving a free Google phone number for all their devices, free domestic calls, and advanced voicemail management. And so far, my experience has been very positive.

Google Voice

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April 17, 2010
Anyone looking for a GV invite send me a request at 4spruitt@gmail.com
January 07, 2010
I've been reading up on this one for quite some time now but your review managed to put all the interesting stuff in a very well organized format which made it quite simple for me to find what will benefit me personally. Funny thing as I've been a part of nearly every Google beta and dev preview program but managed to NOT get an invite for Voice. Oh well...maybe one of my fellow lunchers will shoot me one. Sure would be nice. Thanks again...great review!
September 10, 2009
Technology is becoming more innovative and Google is the company that tops it all. Great! Now, perhaps I should consider buying some Google stocks along with this!!! ;-) Haven't tried this service but you can be sure I'll be trying it out soon!
September 10, 2009
It's a full time job keeping up with Google. Google Caffeine, Google Wave and Google Voice are next big 3...
August 31, 2009
 Thanks - I'm glad this was useful! I've been using it for a while now and just love the service.

Some more things I've discovered:

1. If you are a T-Mobile customer, add your Google Voice number to myFaves (and ensure every outgoing call is using GV) - and every single call you make, regardless of what you dial, will be treated as a myFaves call - giving you unlimited free calls in your call plan.

2. Use FreeConferenceCall.com and add that number to myFaves - this gives you unlimited free conference calling from your cell.

Fundamentally, if you can get all your friends to use your GV number instead of the original cell number, and you get myFaves set up properly (or the equivalent on other providers), you can opt for the lowest minute plan available and get unlimited calls.  Hurray!
August 31, 2009
Thanks for such a comprehensive review of this subject. I am a GoogleVoice member but didn't realize all the things it could do.
August 31, 2009
Whoops - responded above...
April 17, 2010
Anyone looking for a GV invite send me a request at 4spruitt@gmail.com
More Google Voice reviews
review by . October 27, 2009
1. Hi Emma, it's so if you are doing calling.       2. I think you're probably a better word to describe it, but there's just something about it, but I'd like to just seems really 9 cents off and something that if someone was reading yet.         3. Anyway, I'm calling about the photos that you sent tapes. I guess they look ok. Other not great but whenever you wanna call into Scott 243.       4. Also, can you throw …
review by . August 20, 2009
 I love my Google Voice account.  It transcribes my voicemails and sends me them via SMS so I can see what they said without listening to it.  It's also great to have one number I can use for the rest of my life.
Quick Tip by . January 15, 2010
Google Voice is making fast strides. You can rate the accuracy of the transcripts and submit them for product improvement.
Quick Tip by . October 27, 2009
Now that Google Voice can intercept calls to your mobile phone and handle the voice mail by emailing transcripts to you, I'm all in!
Quick Tip by . August 20, 2009
Free calls to Canada? Can't complain! Lots of features already, and you know Google will always add more. Request an invite for sure.
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James Beswick ()
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One number for all your calls and SMS
Voicemail as easy as email, with transcripts
More cool things you can do with Google Voice
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