My Ode to Google Voice
This reads like an amatuer ad for Google Voice. Wasn’t my intention, but had a tweep who could really use the service, so I did this originally as a Google Doc and shared it with him. She has since signed up — Yay!
Google Voice is a free service. At its most basic, you get a single phone number that can remain with you as long as you are based in the US. For now, it’s free for calls within the US (and perhaps Canada as well) – and offers some decent rates for international calling.
Oops! Correction! Since originally writing this, found out that the Voice Mail and Voicemail to Text/Email feature is a free trial. I’m now paying $1.99/month for it. Well worth it!
Alert! BEST feature (to me) is in RED near the bottom. Didn’t want to restructure completely to put it up front!
When you sign up, you get to choose a number. There are two ways to choose:
By Area Code
You give the Area Code, and you’re presented with a list of numbers that Google Voice can offer you in that Area Code.
You just enter whatever string of characters you want embedded in the number, and Google Voice presents you with a list of numbers – anywhere in the US – that could be your vanity number. That’s what I did! Quite a few showed up, in a few different area codes, and I chose the one that included the text I entered AND my favorite number!
<Original paragraph from closely held Google Document redacted – this blog is completely public and I’m not yet ready to share my primary phone number with the whole world!>
If you look up my number by area code (970) – you’ll find that I appear to be Colorado. I’m not. And I don’t expect to be anytime soon. As of now, my Peregrination plans don’t include Colorado. So why did I accept this number? Since almost every cell phone provider treats all calls within the US as “local” – as do most cable companies who provide phone service over your cable – I fully expect that even the old, wired phone companies will consider all calls within the US to be local soon. So it really doesn’t MATTER where your phone number is. Except, perhaps, if you’re a business that needs the number of your store to appear to be local!
You then have to give them one REAL number that you have. Why? Because at it’s most basic, Google Voice is a call distribution service that has to be able to try to ring at least one real number. Google Voice will then CALL that number while displaying a code on the screen. When you answer, you enter to code to confirm that it really IS a real number under your control.
At that point, there’s a lot of OTHER things you can do. Set up more real numbers – and tell Google which numbers to try – and anytime someone calls your Google Voice number, it rings everywhere you tell it to! And you can tailor your voice mail message to who is calling you (if they don’t have Caller ID blocked). And you can tailor which phones ring based on time of day and who is calling (again, if they haven’t blocked Caller ID).
Notice that, when you can CHANGE your real number – ANY real number, you only change it in Google Voice! This means that you can have a single number to give out, but change your actual phone numbers any time you want – without telling anybody!
I just looked, and Google says what I just said, but of course, much more simply:
To sign up, just go to http://voice.google.com and click on the red “Sign Up” button on the upper right!
I hope you like it,