Google Voice launched recently with a huge amount of fanfare from around the blogosphere. I’ve been a user of GrandCentral since it launched, so I was pleasantly pleased to see an upgrade to Google Voice. Unfortunately, Google Voice is still closed to new users, but keep checking back – the service will be opening to all Google users soon!
Google Voice builds upon the “one phone number” to reach a user model, by closely integrating the account into Gmail. The goal of Voice is to provide a way for people to reach you, no matter where you are – your cell, office, home, etc. – and you can screen your calls by group or individual numbers, listen in to voicemails and more. Want to keep track of a call? You can record Google Voice calls in your account and listen to them later!
Perhaps the most innovative feature is the voicemail transcription. Obviously, this feature is on a learning curve, because I’ve yet to get a transcription that can totally replace listening to a voicemail. Google also gives you a $1.00 credit for making international calls. The rates are competitive with Skype, so those users with a slow internet connection could use Google Voice instead of Skype for quality international calls.
Some users will find the SMS feature handy, but I still prefer to send SMS from my cell phone; I use Google Voice for calls to/from people I’m not friends with, so I have no urge or need to SMS them.
Google Voice also offers 4 options when you answer your phone:
Accept the call (press 1)
Send the call to voicemail (press 2)
ListenInTM on the voicemail (press 3)
Accept and record the call (press 4)
This saves me a lot of time on long, drawn out calls because I can listen in on the voicemail and decide if I need to call the caller back. Also, I can listen to voicemails via my phone or online. Even without the transcription service working 100%, I can still access my voicemails later, without fear of my cell phone erasing them, or my answering machine overwriting them.
Are you using Google Voice? What do you think of it?