Fun With Google Voice

To celebrate my class as Solo Practice University this week on Google Calendar and Tasks, I am going to highlight an upcoming class’ subject – Google Voice, and mention some of its great features. Remember when Google Voice was brand new and everyone got very excited about being able to call for free from their computer or port calls through or to their various phones? It’s now just over three years old and has matured into a very awesome tool for organizing your telephone activity.

 

Google Voice started life as GrandCentral, which Google snapped up to serve as the telephony part of the Google applications suite. The app launched on March 11, 2009, initially as invitation only, and now available to all Gmail subscribers. You access Google Voice via the web, and Android device or an iOS app. Google Voice provides free PC-to-Phone calling and PC-to-PC voice and video calling worldwide between users of the Google Voice and Video Chat browser plugin, and very reasonably priced calling via other means.

 

Sure, you can place calls, or route them from any phone to your Google Voice number. You can get audio voicemail and transcripts of those messages, configure personalized greetings by number, conference calling, and even port your mobile number over to Google Voice. But there are some lesser known cool features that are worth a mention too. Maybe it’s time to take another look at Google Voice.

 

You can blog by Google Voice or set up a Google Voice voicemail button on your blog to literally hear from readers. You can listen to your voicemails while they are happening – sort of like eavesdropping on your messages. Use it for free text messaging.  Share voicemails with others by emailing them the audio. Record your phone calls. Listen to Google Voice voicemails while still in Gmail. And, more recently added, organize your Google Voice experience by using your Circles from Google+ – have one set of routing instructions and greetings for one circle and a different set for another circle.

 

Just a few of the different things you can do with this great standout telephone product! If you want to learn how, then check into my upcoming classes at the Everything Google course at Solo Practice University. And happy calling!

 

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Google Voice. Free. And Freely Available

If you have been on the Web the past couple of days, you might have heard about Google’s rollout of this cool new feature: make Google Voice calls straight from your Gmail / GChat interface. Google Voice is a fantastic application that gives you the ability to monitor and manage calling with voice messaging, text transcripts, fine-grained call routing and tele-spam control. I previously have covered it in the Studio (link here).

Prior to the new add, using Google Voice to make calls was a little bit of a process, requiring you to institute a call from within Google Voice and then employ the designated phone to actually make the call, or to use third party application Gizmo and set up a gadget within Gmail to do so. The latter option was still a bit of a process and never really worked well for me.

Now, if you have a Google Voice account (which presumes a Google Gmail account) and a computer outfitted with a speaker and microphone, you are good to go. All you need to do is download the Google voice and video plug-in utility onto your desired computer, sign into your Gmail / GChat account and look at the top of the Chat window. There you will see a little phone icon and “Call Phone” link:

Click on that button and you will then see a little phone keypad pop up in the lower right hand corner of your screen:

Type your number in and hit call. It’s that easy. Of course, calls made through this interface show up in your Google Voice dashboard and will show up in someone’s caller ID as your Google Voice number.

All U.S. calls are free and international calls are extremely cheap. Hit the money link shown above the keypad to access an international rate menu and see for yourself. Combine the easy-to-use new Google Voice on your desktop via Gmail with Google Voice on your cellphone and, PRESTO – instant, free, agile telephony solution for your personal or business needs! You can’t lose.

Want more about GVoice and Gmail? Check out Google’s own video below:

Google Voice Lets You Have Cake & Eat It Too

Google VoiceGoogle Voice, that controversial darling of the VoIP world is making more headlines these days as the hot potato tossed around between ATT, Apple and the FCC than as the innovative telephone / messaging service that it is. I reviewed Voice a while back in the Studio and stand by my thumbs up conclusion. The only material downside I saw to the service back then was the pain associated with getting up close and personal with a brand new phone number – your old number generally was not portable into Voice at that time.

Techcrunch reports that you can now partially port your old number into Google Voice and obtain some (but not all) of Voice’s bells and whistles. Essentially, you can activate the feature and move your voice mail away from your old number and into Voice. So, for those diehard contacts who refuse to switch over to your new Google Voice number and insist on calling your old number, messages at the old number will appear in your Voice inbox. The voicemails are automatically transcribed and you can apply custom messages to callers at that number. At the least, you can consolidate your messaging in one Google Voice location.

One small step for Google, one large step for Cloud walkers everywhere.

Too Many Phones? Not Enough Time? Try Google Voice

Google Voice muy pronto!
Image by marcopako  via Flickr

Immersed as I am in web applications and research, I tend to take for granted that news that might seem “old” might not in fact be “old” for the vast majority. Take Google Voice, for example. I have known about Google Voice for months now and have gotten into the fray with it, played with it, coddled it and cooed to it. But that doesn’t mean that you have. And maybe you have heard about it, but don’t really know what it is all about and would like to hear more.

Google Voice used to be a service known as GrandCentral before it was eaten Jonah-like by the Google whale in 2007. Check out the official Google blog and related links here. It is a free service, like other Google apps, and employs VoIP (voice over internet) to permit you to group your phone numbers together and manage them from one location – Google.

It is currently only available in the United States. You can select one of several numbers in various area codes across the country (there were pages and pages of available numbers in my area code). Once you select that number, you authenticate your existing home, work, cell and other phone numbers via your GV number and can then stream your calls from these disparate sources into your GV number. You can then route calls based on the original number source, contact group and time of day.

Routing isn’t the only cool feature. You can get voicemail with transcription that can be accessed either by your computer or your phone. You can also mark callers as spam and NEVER HEAR FROM THEM AGAIN (can you tell I like this feature?). You can assign voice mail greetings based on the caller and switch phone lines during a call. You can forward SMS and you can record calls.

Access your settings and information via the website. I copied this list of features from the Google Voice Wikipedia entry:

  • A single Google number for all user’s phones.
  • Free calls and SMS in the contiguous US.
  • Calling International phone numbers for as low as 0.01 USD per minute.
  • Call screening. Announce callers based on their number or by an automated identification request for blocked numbers.
  • Listen in on someone recording a voicemail before taking a call.
  • Block calls.
  • Send, receive, and store SMS online.
  • Answer an incoming call on any of your phones.
  • Phone routing. Choose which phones should ring based on who calls.
  • Forwarding phones.
  • Voicemail transcripts. Read voicemails online.
  • Listen to voicemail online or from a phone.
  • Receive notifications of voicemails via email or SMS.
  • Personalized greeting that vary greetings by caller.
  • The ability to forward or download voicemails.
  • Conference calling.
  • Record calls and store them online.
  • Switch phones during a call.
  • View the web inbox from a mobile device/phone.
  • Set preferences for contacts by group.
  • Ability to change your number for a fee.

Undoubtedly, Google Voice is a new visualization and implementation of conventional phone technology. I haven’t fully incorporated it into my daily routine, but I am working towards centralizing my telephonic life and reaping the benefits of GV’s maximum control and organization.

Readers may be aware of the recent brouhaha about Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application from the App Store, sparking an inquiry by the FCC into Apple’s and ATT’s actions and intentions. While this posturing plays out, I understand that a “work around” has been achieved via the mobile web. I am looking forward to it, as I am hoping to drop my business line in favor of an iPhone-powered GV line.

How do you get Google Voice? Well, if you are a grandfathered GrandCentral customer, you have it already. If you aren’t, as I wasn’t, you can request an invite here. If you do check it out, I would love to hear what you think of it, your experiences with it and how you are utilizing it in your communications practices.

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