Google Voice made some attractive changes announced in their blog October 26th. Until now, those of us lucky enough to receive an invitation had to make a difficult choice to change our number over to our Google number—or not.
This week, Google said they recognize how difficult it is for some to give up their numbers, so they’ve been able to tweak the technology to allow people to keep their original number and keep these GV features:
- free voicemail transcription (delivered to your email address)
- ability to do an on-line search of transcribed voicemail
- customized greetings for different callers
- SMS and email notifications
- low-priced international calling
If you decide to make your GV number your only number, you also get these features:
- ability to use your Google Voice number to reach you on all your phones
- SMS via email
- call screening
- call recording
- conference calling (up to 6 people)
- call block
Here’s a chart from Google that gives a side by side of the above for easier comparison.
The big appeal of Google Voice for many of us is the ability to use one number that we can program to reach us from all of the phone numbers we use. We don’t get that if we keep our original number.
Having the ability to import my contacts, assign groups to them, record a specific greeting for business, personal and family groups is both efficient and professional. I can further direct GV how to handle a specific group or person’s calls at a certain time of day. For instance, I would program GV to send all my family calls to all of my numbers so I wouldn’t miss them. I would program my business group to ring only certain phones at designated times of the day.
Here’s a short video that quickly explains the benefits of Google Voicemail.
Having It Both Ways
I’ve got a Google Voice number—and I still have my mobile and home numbers because I didn’t want to be too hasty in eliminating numbers I’ve had for a long time.
Why not use both numbers. I’ve decided that’s what I’ll do for now. I can give my GV number out for certain purposes/circumstances and enjoy the ability to program instructions for specific groups or callers.
If I go out of town, I can choose to forward my mobile and home numbers to my GV number and have the ability to handle all my calls in a specific manner. Any voicemails will be transcribed and emailed to me for easy review and retrieval.
I’m not using my Google Voice number very much yet, but it’s nice knowing it’s there and on the few occasions I have, it’s such a timesaver to get voicemails emailed to me instantly. The transcription isn’t perfect, but enough so I can recognize who called.
One thing I haven’t gotten to work is the free SMS. It’s my understanding that if I use GV SMS, charges wouldn’t apply. However, after using it exclusively for several days, I checked my on-line T-mobile account and they were still being counted in there. I will check out the Google Voice Help Forums more to see if I can get an answer there.