Google Voice

googlevoice

Google has been releasing so many products lately, it is getting hard to keep up. I have been using Google Voice for a while, and recently had opportunity to use one of my favorite features.

What is Google Voice? In short, Google Voice is a master phone number that you can carry with you for life. You will never have to remember a new number if you move to another area. This can follow you wherever you go. It doen’t matter which phone numbers you want to use, they all work. You can plug multiple numbers into Google Voice, and you can choose which one will ring when someone dials your number.

I have my account set up to ring my office and my cell phone if my wife calls. When she calls me I choose which phone to answer if I am at my desk. Once I pick up, the other phone stops ringing. This isn’t the only way to use this feature though. Say a number I don’t recognize comes in. A number that is either blocked or unavailable for some reason. I can choose whether or not to answer the call, and if I choose not to answer it, I can send them to a special voice mail for unknown callers. I have a separate voice mail greeting for friends, family, and strangers. I use my Google contacts page to manage these settings. This brings me to one of my favorite features.

When someone calls me, I can screen the call. If I pick up, I can choose to send someone directly to my Google Voice voice mail account. I then have the option to listen as they leave a message. If it turns out I know the caller I can interrupt the message and pick up the call, just like an answering machine. If I choose to listen to the end, I can then mark it as unread or read, depending on what I want to do with it.

Once a message is left on my voice mail, I can receive an email or a text message with a transcribed version of the message. The transcription is still pretty sketchy, but a lot of the messages transcribe just fine. I am looking forward to seeing an improvement in this feature.

SMS messaging is also available on Google Voice. If I am at my desk I don’t need to send a text message from my cell phone. I can log into my Voice account and type the SMS message. I can check for messages that have been sent to me as well, though I automatically let Google pass it on to my cell phone.

The other day I finally got to use the call screening feature, and it worked perfectly. I was able to listen to a person leave a message on my voice mail, knowing that I could break into the message if I wanted. Once the call was over I was given a choice to delete it, mark it as read, or mark it as unread. I chose to keep the message as unread and received both the text message and the email with the transcription. I am very happy with this feature.

Are there any Google Voice users out there? Let me know what features you are excited about. I look forward to seeing how other people are using the service. You can learn more about Google Voice and see some screenshots from my colleague’s post on the Pepperdine SOLIS blog.

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