When it comes to "cool tools", Google is the master
inventor. Say what you want about Google, but they know
what they're doing when it comes to giving the public
what they want and need. Take the telephone for instance.
An old invention that now has been given a new twist
with "Google Voice"(G.V.). www.google.com/voice
Hold onto your chair as I'm about to tell you how
to have a lot more fun with Ma Bell.
Google is giving you the ability to manage all your phones with one centralized number. At the time of this writing, it's only available to those in the U.S., and by invitation only. Upon registration, you'll be given your own phone number that you connect to any existing phone number. When someone calls the Google Voice number, it rings the phone number that you specified. The option of selecting a word for your personalized number is also given.
Now, if all Google Voice did was send phone calls to your cell phone, that would be great all by itself, but the amount of extra tools and features are truly amazing.
When a call is received you can answer it, send it directly to voice mail, listen in on the incoming call to decide what to do with it, or start recording the call upon answering. How's that for a few options?
After receiving a call you'd like to record, hit 4 on your phone to start recording. Different states have different laws when it comes to recording calls, so check your current federal and state laws before using this feature. Currently outbound calls cannot be recorded. Google does provide an automated verbal announcement when the recording starts and stops so the person you're speaking with knows they are being recorded. So much for incriminating yourself (LOL)
Say goodbye to voicemail as you know it. When a voicemail is recorded, you can check it by going to the Google Voice website and logging in, or calling your Google number. You can even be notified by email, or text message of new messages needing your attention. The ability to listen in on voice mails as they are being left is a very handy feature.
Voicemail messages can be shared with others via Email, even downloaded as MP3 files and embedded on a website or blog. Messages are also transcribed as text and housed on Google's site for later reading, or sent to you by email. When it comes to voice mail greetings, custom messages can be set for groups or certain individuals.
Google Voice is free for use within the U.S., but does give the ability to make low cost international calls to over 200 countries from your phone or Google's site. You'll first need to purchase credits through Google Checkout before making these calls. Rates vary per country.
Here are some other handy features:
- Phone spam filters which block calls and mark them
So what about when you call someone and want it to appear you are calling from your Google Voice phone number? No problem. The ability to make calls that will display your G.V. number on caller ID can be done in three different ways.
1) Hit call from within Google Voice website
Google will call you at the number you specify and connect your outbound call. It doesn't get much better than that.
The technical requirements to use this service are a computer with Win XP, Vista, Mac or Linux, Internet Explorer 6.0 or above, Firefox 3.0 or higher, Safari, Google Chrome and Flash 8.9. To request your invitation go to https://services.google.com/fb/forms/googlevoiceinvite/
So, if you thought using the phone was outdated, sign up with Google Voice and put some "FUN" back into an old relationship. This just might be the best thing old Ma Bell has seen in years.