Neutral Axis

Google Voice

by on Sep.18, 2009, under Uncategorized

voice_logoGoogle Voice, formerly called Grand Central, is a messaging system that’s a little hard to grasp at first, but can be a huge convenience.  When you sign up for Google Voice (free), you’re given a phone number within your area code.  You then provide the numbers of your wireline, mobile, work, etc. From that point, any call that comes in to the GV number will ring all those other phones simultaneously.

Whichever phone you pick up first, is where the call gets answered.  The caller will have no idea which phone you’re using.  In addition to that there are screening options in which the caller will get a recorded message requiring them to state their name.  When you answer the call, you’ll hear their name and can then choose to speak with them, send it to voicemail or hang up.

Calls that are sent to voice mail, either explicitly, or because you never answered can be listened to online, or can be transcribed and sent to your email account.  Below is a sample transcription and the audio from a call.  The transcription is very accurate except for mistaking Mediacom as Media come.  Phone numbers have been deleted for posting.

Sample transcription

Sample transcription


A schedule can also be created so that calls are not sent to certain phones during specified times.

Also, incoming calls can be screened by phone number and blocked.  A very handy feature to use if you give the number to a salesman who then begins pestering you after you’ve already declined their offer.  I gave the number to a sales rep at a trade show booth selling gutter guards.  After meeting with a salesman at my home and deciding I didn’t want to buy their expensive product, I began receiving daily calls asking me to reconsider.  I finally blocked his number so that he got a “this number has been disconnected” message.  My GV number is now the number I give out as if it were a throw-away email address.

GV can also be used for outgoing calls.  From your account webpage, you can provide the phone number you want to call, and which of your phones you want to use.  It will then ring your selected phone.  When you pick it up, it will begin ringing the other phone.  A iPhone app was developed to make this easier for mobile users, but was rejected by Apple.  There’s currently a little dust up going on over that between Google, Apple, and the FCC.

In addition to voice calling, GV also provides a means for unlimited SMS.  I’m not a text messaging kind of guy, but I’ve tried the SMS function and it works.  Recipients don’t see that its any different from any other text message.  Without a settings tweak though, reply messages will be sent to your mobile number.  I don’t have a texting plan with my mobile phone, so my experiment cost me $0.20 for that reply.  In the settings I found that I could prevent those messages from being forwarded to my mobile.  If Google and Apple can work out their trouble, the GV app should make that simpler.

It should be noted that GV is not a VOIP application.  If used with a mobile phone, you’ll still be using your normal talking minutes.  The Calling Credits you’ll see are used to make international calls from Google Voice. Calls made within the continental U.S. are free and don’t affect your balance.

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