One number to rule them all
Over the weekend, I decided to move my telephone operations to Google Voice… and I am enjoying the benefits. Perhaps the most important benefit of this switch is that I only have one number to hand out. I have updated all my signature blocks to note the change.
Basically how Google Voice works is that when someone calls my Google Voice number, all of my phones (cell, home, and work) will ring; therefore, I can always be reached. However, I can place conditions on what rings and when based on time and the individual. For example, I can prevent my home phone from ringing between the hours of 6pm and 6am, or I can prevent family members from ringing my work phone. Each phone can have its own configuration, and you can place individuals in groups so they ring only specific phones. Additionally, you can set personalized greetings for specific people or groups of people.
Google Voice comes with its own Website and mobile applications to monitor calls (incoming, missed, and outgoing), text messages, voicemail, and overall usage history. Received messages can be routed to email if so desired. Current I am routing messages to my email, I am not sure if I will continue with this practice. Messages can be also forwarded by email to other recipients. Google Voice does a reasonable job of transcribing incoming messages. Once you collect a number of messages, you can also search through them for key words or phrases. It is also possible to do a search based on a specific person.
With Google Voice, I can make and receive calls from my phone, computer, and iPad. One really nice feature is making a call from a number found in a gmail message. Simply click on the number and select the call button. I can also send and receive text (SMS) messages from all of my devices.
From the Google Voice Website, I can block unwanted callers. In addition, I can screen callers before I decide to answer or send them to voicemail.
If I want to conduct a conference call, I only have to have everyone call me and accept them into the call. Google Voice to include text messaging also works with Google Hangouts. I am looking forward to experimenting with these features.
If I ever move or change telephone carriers, I only need to change the numbers in the settings, and I can continue to receive calls to the new devices. I do not have to change my Google Voice number… one number for life.
Who else is using Google Voice? What are your experiences? How are you using it?