Google Voice, formerly known as GrandCentral, has been a hot topic ever since its initial release on March 11, 2009. Because it is only available by invitation, and invitations aren’t easily attainable, its demand has remained quite high since the beginning.
Well, seek no further! We have a limited amount of invites to give away, so read on to find out more about Google Voice, and how to get your hands on an invite!
How Does Google Voice Work?
Google Voice is Google’s telecommunications service launched just this year. It is currently only available to the U.S., but I won’t be surprised to see it go worldwide eventually. You can use certain features with your existing phone number(s), or set up your own Google Voice number for free and have access to even more great features!
Use Google Voice with your Existing Phone Number
Most people, including myself, already use a well-established phone number and have no desire to change it. Luckily for us, Google offers certain features for use with an existing number, like Google Voicemail, voicemail transcription, the ability to share, download and embed voicemails, international calling at a highly discounted rate, custom greetings that can vary by caller, and more! Unfortunately, porting existing numbers is not yet available, although most everyone is requesting it from Google via their.
Google Voicemail uses a platform that looks very similar to the Gmail inbox, which is nice for those who are already familiar with Gmail. Set up custom voicemail greetings for different callers or groups, or have one main greeting for everyone. When someone leaves you a message, Google Voice can automatically transcribe it and send it to you via email or SMS. You can also play the voicemail, or forward it to other people, embed it in a webpage, or download it to your hard drive!
The transcription service works pretty well, too. At the very least, it will give you a good idea of what the caller wants. Of course, you’ll have certain people in your life that Google Voice just can’t transcribe, like people with strong accents, or in my case, my grandfather. Although you might think this would be annoying, I actually find myself looking forward to his voicemails now, thanks to the occasional hilarity of the transcription. Sometimes it will simply say “Transcript Not Available,” or it will transcribe it with some text in gray, indicating those words may not be accurate.
The international calling feature is also a big plus. You can view the discounted rates from your Google Voice interface, and add calling credits from there as well. Calls to Canada are free, whereas other places like France, Italy, Germany and Hong Kong (to name a few) only cost $0.02 per minute!
Choose a Custom Phone Number for More Great Features
You can also set up your own Google Voice phone number to use with additional features like ringing a call to all of your phones, call blocking, the ability to record calls, free SMS services, call screening, the ability to move a call from cell phone to land line and vice versa, and more.
When choosing your Google Voice number, you have total freedom regarding what phone number you end up with. As long as it’s available in the database, it’s as good as yours!
With this number comes many additional features, like the ability to ring all of your phones, or only some of your phones, based on the caller. For example, you could have your wife’s calls ring to your home, cell and work phones, while your boss’s calls ring only to your work phone. You also have the ability to switch from land line to cell phone and vice-versa, while in the middle of a call, without having to hang up.
The call screening feature is another favorite of many users. You can set it up to ask unknown callers to state their name before deciding whether to take the call or send it to voicemail. You can even listen to voicemails as they’re being recorded and choose to take the call right then, or leave it to voicemail. If you have an annoying caller that just won’t leave you alone, you can elect to block the caller, and Google will play the standard “The number you have dialed is no longer in service” message next time a call comes in from that number.
Another great option is the ability to record incoming calls. Beware, though, that the caller will be alerted when you start and stop recording, so there’s no easy way to record secretly! The recording will be stored in your Google Voice account, and from there, you can email, embed or download it.
Google also published a playlist showcasing these features, along with a few others, for use with your Google Voice number.
Want an Invite?
We have 100 invites to give away to 100 lucky readers , so be sure to request your invitation now, as I’m sure they will go quickly! UPDATE : We have no more invites! To request an invite, simply send an email to email@example.com with the email address you’d like the invitation sent to in the body of the message. Double check that the email address you provide is accurate! Google will be responsible for sending the invitations, so please note that I have no control over when you will receive it. When we run out of invites, we will announce it here. Editor’s note: Please do not submit any requests in the comments. We will only entertain invitation requests sent via email to the specified address above.
If you missed out on this particular opportunity, you can still request an invite directly from Google by visiting their Request an Invite page. When I requested mine back in August, it took about a month to receive it, which was actually sooner than I expected, so don’t worry! They say they are working through them as quickly as they can.
Here are a few similar phone-related services we’ve reviewed in the past:
10 Sites to Send Free Text Messages to Cell Phones (SMS)
15 Free Useful Services to Access from Your Phone
Phonevite – Blast Out Voice Messages to Your Team for Free
MessageSling: Store & Manage Your Voicemail Messages Online
Do you know of any unique ways to utilize Google Voice? Let us know in the comments!