It’s taken me a few years to make the transition, but I’m really starting to love Google Voice. If you’re not familiar with what Google Voice does, here’s a quick intro:
In the time since that video was created, one other huge feature was added — you can send/receive calls with no phone at all! Just connect through your Gmail and you can talk to folks right on there using your computer microphone and speakers. If you’ve spoken with me on the phone in the past few months, it’s almost certainly been on there.
Beyond that, there are a few other reasons I love it so much. Ringing multiple phones doesn’t excite me too much, as I’m pretty much a cell-phone-only guy. However, here are a few other things I really like about Google Voice.
Text from your computer
If someone sends me a text message, it goes to my phone and to the Google Voice page in my browser. I use the Google Voice Chrome extension to notify me of any new texts or voicemails. I can reply from the computer (full keyboard always beats a phone keyboard) and they all stay synced up. If I leave the house in the middle of a text conversation, I can simply continue it from my phone without a hitch.
When someone leaves you a voicemail in Google Voice, it’s automatically transcribed and emailed to you, so you typically don’t have to waste time listening to it. The transcriptions aren’t great, but usually adequate to get the point across. Of course, it’s also fun to see what kind of mistakes their auto-transcription makes, such as the message below that actually started with “It’s your old granny…”:
The text is different shades of gray based on the confidence that Google has in the transcription of each word. Those words at the beginning are light-colored to indicate that Google isn’t very confident that they’re correct. Good call, Google.
It works best on Android
While the latest updates to the iPhone app are quite solid, the best Google Voice experience can only be had on an Android-based phone. Once you install it on there, you can tell it to pretty much take over and make every outbound call using your Google Voice number.
If you have an older cell phone, this is a problem. People will call your Google Voice number and reach you, but when you call back they’ll see your normal cell number show up on their caller id.
Also, Google Voice now supports number porting (switch your current number to Google Voice, then get a new number for your cell), but it’s a good bit of work.
There are really only two major downsides to Google Voice.
The first is simply the fact that it’s a new phone number and you need to get people to update their info for you. I’ve done it very slowly over the past few years, as it hasn’t been much of a priority. Now I’m working a bit harder to switch those last few stragglers over to my GV number.
The second is a bit more serious, but not a huge deal — Google Voice doesn’t support MMS (picture messages). Not only that, but they don’t reject them properly either. If someone sends you a picture message, it just evaporates. You don’t get the message, and they don’t get a “failed to send” message or anything.
How about you?
Do you use Google Voice? Thinking of giving it a try?