Google Voice

Google VoiceEven though Google has provided so many great features, such as Google Drive, Gmail, etc, there is another one I want to talk about called Google Voice. What Google Voice does is create an actual phone number for your Google Account. But if you are like me, having another phone number isn’t really exciting, but a Google Voice number gives you some control other phone providers don’t.

First of all having a Google Voice number is free, and you can make calls from your computer anywhere in the United States for free. That alone is pretty cool, especially if you don’t want a landline or even have a cell phone, it is a quick, internet based way to get a phone number. But if you do have either, or both, a landline and cell phone, Google Voice can link to those phone numbers. So that when someone calls your Google Voice number it can ring at either of those phones, or both if you choose. Or if you don’t want it to call the other phones, you can put it in Do Not Disturb mode so that callers will just get a voicemail. When they leave a message Google Voice will email you with a digital copy of the message, pretty slick.

As I said earlier Google Voice also allows you to set your account to Do Not Distrub, so that callers simply get a voicemail and it doesn’t ring on your phone. Google Voice goes a stop further and even automatically blacklists any calls from known telemarketers and spammers, which is a feature I wish phone companies themselves would do. In fact when you get calls into your Google Voice account you can mark them as Spam just as you would email, letting you filter out some of those unwanted calls. You can even setup contacts and mark for each of them, how Google handles calls from them, such as blocking or white listing them. These features give you a lot of filtering control over your Google Voice account, and in turn, your mobile or landline phone.

But even with all those features, the part that I like the most is the ability to go online and change where, and how the attached phone numbers work. This way if I am at work I can set it to ring to just my work number, or if I am home I can set it to just my cell phone. This is all very easily updated from the Google Voice website, allowing you to change your phone on the go. Giving you control over your phones, without having to give our your real phone number. Looking at this from beyond a personal Gmail account, to a business or Google Apps account this ability to change the forwarding of phones from a website, makes it a very attractive and cheap feature for a call center or help desk, especially for weekend and evening on call hours.

Also the ability to make calls from your computer is a pretty handy feature too. Google Voice uses the Google Chat client, enabling you to dial phone numbers right from your desktop. A pretty handy feature if you work in a call center, or are just too lazy to get up from your desk and go get your cell phone (yes I have done this). Or even for a conference call this can be pretty useful as you can utilize computer speakers for better audio quality.

So if you are feeling stretched with phone numbers, or don’t want to give our your personal phone number, try using Google Voice. It can literally be the one phone number to rule them all and take control of your phone numbers.