Google Voice

googlevoice

For the uninitiated and uninformed one of Google’s latest app is Google Voice (GV). With GV Google gives you a phone number. A number were anyone can text (SMS only), call, and leave voice mails. With this number you can have all calls forward to other phone numbers. So what does this mean? If you’re like me, with 3 different phone lines, you can have all calls forward to those numbers. They all ring at the same time until you answer it from one of your phones.

GV has some great features. GV has the ability to transcribe your voice mail into text. And when you play them back on your computer or phone you get to see it in a karaoke-style play back. GV also manages your text messages and phone call logs. It’s like a gmail account but for you phone calls and text messages.

Currently, GV is invite only. You can sign up at (www.google.com/voice). If you’re lucky you can get your invitation within a week or two. I have already made the plunge and switched completely over to GV. My GV number is my primary number. With 3 separate phone lines GV is an awesome application to have. But before you completely jump ship and join the GV phenomenon there are a few things to consider.

1. To take full advantage of GV you’ll have to notify all your contacts, friends, and family of your new number. It won’t make much sense by giving some people your GV number and others your regular number because the goal of GV is to consolidate all your phones numbers into one. It’s an all or nothing approach, so if you’re uncomfortable switching phone numbers you might want to wait it out until Google enables you to port you phone number.

2. The GV app works great on Blackberry devices and even better on Android phones. That means iPhone users are SOL. Unfortunately, Apple decided not to approve (or hasn’t approved yet, depending on who you ask) the app in their App Store. So you’re stuck using the web-based version of GV through the Safari browser. There are third-party apps for GV for other devices, but if you want the best experience stick with Blackberry or Android devices.

3. Lastly, you will need to sync your phone contacts with GV or your Gmail contacts. If you don’t transfer or copy them over GV can’t associate the caller to a contact. Unless you know all you’re contacts’ phone number by heart I recommend you getting your contacts synced.

In all GV is a great app if you have problems juggling multiple phones numbers or if you just like transcribed voice mails (albeit at 60-70% accuracy). Even its call filtering abilities is enough to switch over, but make sure you’re willing to inform everyone you know about your new number and you have a Blackberry or Android device before you make the plunge.

PROS:

-One number for all your phones (Centralized calls and texts)
-Call Filtering (limited though)
-Personalized Voicemail for groups or individual contacts
-Free SMS
-Transcribed Voicemails
-Cheap long distance calls

CONS:

-No Phone number portability (at least at this moment)
-No MMS
-SMS character is limited to 160. Larger texts are sent in multiple chunks
-No iPhone app

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