Several months back I was listening to Leo Laporte – all around tech guy. He was talking about how Google purchased Grand Central in order to revamp it into a new service called Google Voice. Right now, you can join Google Voice only by invitation.
I visited the website and signed up to get the very special invitation from Google. It arrived a couple of weeks ago, so I began the process of searching through a list for the perfect number that would resonate with me and the world (ha ha).
So now I’ve got my number and am wondering what the heck I’m going to do with it. What will it do for me or other small business owners?
The Google site has lots of great videos and FAQs to assist, but I turn to tech bloggers I respect to get their take and some practical applications. This time, I chose TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington because I heard he quit the iPhone because Apple/ATT won’t allow the Google Voice App to be downloaded and used on iPhones. If he put his iPhone down for Google Voice, there must be something to it.
Please read his great article. He addresses probably the biggest concern – I don’t want to lose my number! Google will be rolling out number portability later this year. That solves that problem. The next concern is that when I place a call, I want my ported number to show up, not the Google Voice number. They have addressed that as well (on the mobile side), with apps that have already been released for the Android and Blackberry.
So let’s say the porting of your mobile number to your Google Voice number has happened and you are lucky enough to own one of the supported mobile handsets that accept the Google Voice App – what next? Let’s look at features…
Google Voice Features
- You’ll have a single number that can/will ring to your home, work, mobile or any other number you own—depending on how you set it up.
- Ability to block any number you wish (think of the possibilities here)
- Set up personalized vmx greetings by group or individual
- Screen callers leaving you a vmx – pick it up if you wish
- Granular settings—you control (via your Google Voice account on the web), how calls from either a group you designate or a single person is handled. You are able to set controls so that your friends calls are automatically routed to all your numbers because you don’t want to miss their calls – right? On the flip side, you can also set your phone to have certain calls go directly to your voicemail at at certain times of the day(co-workers after hours calls??).
- Voicemail—you can set controls so any voicemails you receive on your mobile are transcribed and sent to you either via email or text message, then read it at your leisure. What a timesaver! The transcribed calls are all held in your Google account on-line and are searchable and tagable.
- Conference Calls—have up to 6 people on a conference call—and you can record the call too.
- Call Record –record calls and save them online.
Try to wrap your head around this – with your Google Voice number, you will never have to be held captive again by a phone company.Whatever phone you have in your hand can be used as your phone.
I’ve yet to dive in to my Google contacts to set all the controls and instructions, but Paul Stamatiou has and has some great screen shots and shows the multitude of possibilities at your fingertips.
For you Palm Pre users, looks like there is an unofficial app out there for you. Read Lifehacker’s article for more information.
Blackberry, Android and other mobile users can get the app you need as well.
There’s a lot of positive buzz about Google Voice and many are getting their numbers, but from what I’ve read, people are waiting for the number portability feature to start implementing.
For business owners, it is a great convenience and the service is free – at least for now. Our phones are our lifelines and helps us produce revenue. Do we want to trust it to Google—be it for privacy, security, reliability reasons? What do you think?