5 Cool Things You Can Do With Google Voice

Ads by Google

antiquephoneWhen I first heard about Google Voice, I immediately submitted my email for an invite, and within a few weeks I received one. April first provided a review of Google Voice and offered 100 invites right here at MUO. Since then, Google continued to progress with Google Voice and add more features.

My initial excitement about Voice quickly faded when I learned that Google Voice will not let you port over your home number yet – although you can use your mobile number, but you’ll be limited to primarily only using the voicemail feature. As I’ve been waiting patiently for Google to offer home number porting (which Google’s help page promises is a feature that’s “coming soon”), I’ve noticed that more cool features keep getting added on to the service, so I thought it’s about time for a list of 5 cool things that you can do with Google Voice.

1. Integrate Google Voice for All Mobile Calls

Obviously, once you sign up with Google Voice, you’ll want to install the mobile app onto your phone. Google Voice offers integrated mobile apps for all major phones, including Android, Blackberry, iPhone and others. Once you install Voice on your phone, you can check your voicemail, send and receive calls, and check your current account balance (Internet and data plan needed for account connection).

how does google voice work

Most importantly, once you’ve installed the Google Voice app, you can receive calls on your mobile phone from your Google number. You can also dial out from your cell phone using the app, and people will see your Google Voice number, not your cell phone number.

how does google voice work

Ads by Google

Just click on “Call with Google Voice,” and your call will get routed through your Voice account. Why is this useful? Imagine you’re starting a new business and you’d like a unique number that you can route to different phones depending on who’s calling. Create one group of contacts that rings your phone, a second group that rings your mobile, and so on.

2. Listen In to Your Voicemail

Remember the days when you had a voice message recorder, and when a caller would start leaving a message, you would also hear the voice from the speaker? With the advent of digital voicemail, that ability to screen calls by listening to the beginning of the message is a disappearing luxury. Well, Google brings it back by integrating ListenIn (TM) service into Google Voice. The way it works is really simple. First, in your Voice account, make sure that under “Call” settings, “Call Presentation” is enabled.

how does google voice work

This tells the system that when someone calls you, you’d like to have the option to handle the call in a variety of ways. You can press (1) to immediately accept, (2) to immediately send to voicemail while listening in and pressing (*) if you want to jump into the call.

3. Automatic Transcription of Every Voicemail

While the bugs aren’t quite all worked out of the system yet, the transcription feature works well enough that you can pretty much understand what the person was saying. In the following text call, I used the “listen in” feature, and from the calling-in phone I left a message that went, “This is a test voicemail for a MakeUseOf article.” You can check your voicemails either online or from your phone.

voice3b

As you can see, the first half of the sentence was transcribed perfectly. The second had “14” instead of “for a”, but “Make Use of” is understandable and close enough. “Our call” was an obvious near miss of “article,” however you can see that those two words are grayed out because the system had a hard time recognizing those words.

4. Recording Phone Calls

Make sure it’s legal where you live, but another option when you have an incoming call is to press (1) and (4) to accept the call and record it. Yup, record it – which brings me to the next cool Google Voice feature, recording phone calls for interviews, police interrogations, or simply to have a record of the conversation.

voice4

There’s no transcription available for recorded conversations, so you’ll need to log into your Voice account to play back the conversation. You can email the file to someone, download it as an MP3 file, or embed it into a website.

5. Customizing Greetings and Other Group Settings

As I mentioned earlier, one of the coolest features of Voice that makes the system ultra-flexible is the fact that you can customize how Google handles and routes your phone calls. It essentially acts as a personal secretary – a phone switchboard that can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.

voice5

Under “Settings” and “Groups”, you can create any group that you like, and edit individual settings as shown above. Select what phone (or phones) should ring, select (or record) a special greeting, and you can even disable Call Presentation for a particular group so that the call immediately starts when you pick up, rather than offering you the usual options to forward to voicemail.

The real promise of Google Voice is home phone number portability – the potential for doing away with our dependency on the phone company or the cable company for overpriced phone service. Why pay a monthly fee, when you could have your home phone number ported over to Google Voice, and manage how incoming calls are routed (to individual family cellphones, or to work phones) depending on who’s calling?

While the voicemail feature is extremely useful and versatile, the potential of home phone portability, which Google promises in the near future, could completely transform the playing field in the telecommunications industry and revolutionize home telephone service as we know it, or it could fall flat on its face and go down as one of Google’s most significant failed initiatives to date. It will be fascinating to see if Google can manage to make this baby fly.

Join live MakeUseOf Groups on Grouvi App Join live Groups on Grouvi
Web for Kids
Web for Kids
7 Members
Deep Web Communities
Deep Web Communities
13 Members
Awesome Websites
Awesome Websites
26 Members
Best Music Services
Best Music Services
14 Members
Ads by Google
Comments (18)
  • Chuck LePard

    I use Google Voice as my work phone number, then connect it to my cell phone. This way, when I am on vacation or out of the office, I can set Google voice to take messages rather than forward to my cell. I can even change the greeting callers hear to say I am out of the office. Its a great way to avoid interruptions on vacation, and I can still review the text message in case its something I want to address promptly.

  • Anonymous

    Another interesting use : you can set up to forward your cell phone calls to google voice when out of the country. “network forwarding on ” You then automatically get transcribed emails when someone calls your regular cell phone so that way you dont miss out on any regular phone calls when out of the country. You can then e mail them back or call from skype.

  • stan

    I have had Google Voice since it was Grand Central. Generally works great but I just added a new number and set up Google Voice to forward all calls to that new number (which no one else had at that point). Within less than a minute I started getting spam calls for credit card deals on the number. Coincidence? Or is Google selling their users numbers to third parties via some kind of automated system?

  • nick

    Just got A nexus one could anyone spare an invite

  • Sam

    The only way I can see to receive calls on my cell phone from Google Voice is to have GV route the call to my cell phone. So, as far as I can tell, that is a call terminated at my cell phone (and using up cell phone minutes). The calls I make out using google voice are VOIP. Am I understanding that correctly?

Load 10 more
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.