• Is Google Voice useful?

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  • I have a Google Voice account (and a Grand Central account before that!), but I don't use it much. I think I should use it more, because in theory, Google Voice seems to do everything. Is anyone using it exclusively for their phone number? I sense that since smart phones came along and got smarter, that the need or niche for Google Voice diminished. Tell what Google Voice is good for, and what you use it for?

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    Question by kevin kelly

It's not perfect. It doesn't do some things I wish it did, and it does some things that I could probably have done in another way. But I still use it. Here's why:

1) Voicemail transcription. 2) Never having to give out my 'real' phone number. 3) Dialing phone numbers directly from webpages on my desktop/laptop. 4) Visual interface for organizing texts and voicemails (I am not an auditory person at all). 5) Keeping my phone number the same in a period when I went without an actual physical phone.

Answer by jehb

I replace my cellphone provider's voicemail number with my g-voice number. The transcribed messages are useful as are the forward-able voicemessages. It is also the number that I give out when a number is required -- the spam-control features of g-voice make it easy to deal with unwanted calls. I have credit balance that was transferred from my Gizmo5 account, but have never used international calling with g-voice. Still wonder why they never integrated Gizmo5's voip service...

Answer by crenquis

I've been using Google Voice since before Google bought the service, it was called GrandCentral. I now use this service for myself and have set it up for my Dad and my Sister as well.

The reason why this service is most valuable is that it gives you full control of your phone number. I don't trust the phone carriers and a phone number is too valuable a piece of personal info not to have under your full control. Using Google Voice means that I haven't even bothered to memorize the numbers attached to my last several phones. At my last job I was given an iphone, minutes after being handed the phone I was able to route calls going to the same old phone number that I had already been using for years. As long as your have an iOS or Android powered cell phone you are set.

For my Dad I was able to set up a home phone using an OBi110 that runs as a voip line. The only cost involved is the e911 service that I think costs roughly $10/year. He isn't that interested in technology, so it was only recently that we set him up with a smartphone. Once he had an android phone it was easy to set that up with Google Voice as well and now we have all his calls going to one phone number and he gets his calls whether he is at home or not without anyone having to call multiple numbers.

Google Voice is not an easy concept to explain. I have failed many times to explain all its merits. The bottom line is yes, it is extremely useful. Sending text messages from the browser and managing your texts, calls and voicemails just like email is hugely valuable. I actually wish that Google would start charging for this service because I would be absolutely devastated if they discontinued it.

Answer by stevenhudosh

I've been using GV for years now. I still love it, the transcription isn't perfect but usually it's good enough to get the gist. It's especially useful with my Android phone and widget, so I can see my messages right on my home screen.

Also, it makes all of my text messages free, which is a big plus, since I use it quite a bit,both from my phone and thanks to the chrome add-on from my browser.

I also use it less often, but it works ok with my sipgate account and my voip adapter so I can use it as a home line (if my cell phone battery dies).

Answer by eviljohn

I also have been using it since the old GrandCentral days and my power-use is having incoming calls ring in multiple places simultaneously: my cell, skype-in, work, and during certain hours, POTS landline. With one number, I can be reached pretty much anyplace I regularly frequent without using up precious minutes on my cheapo Virgin Mobile $35 plan (300 mins, "unlt'd" 4G data) . I also love the voice mail transcription and ability to send SMS within gmail.

A caveat with adopting it a new: how long will Google continue to support it as a free product - or said bluntly, when will they kill it? I imagine it is more resource intensive than Reader and with fewer opportunities to socialize and monetize. Frankly, I am looking for paid alternatives as a backup...

Answer by retrorazor

I've also had a Google Voice/Grand Central number since 2006 and can't say enough good things about it.

The most compelling thing about it is the simplest: Someone calls you and you always get the call. I work remotely about 90% of the time, but the other 10%, when I'm in an office with a phone, I can just add the desk phone to my Google Voice account and poof suddenly I get all my calls at the desk.

The ability to call out via Google Voice and then swap over to another phone if you need to leave is also a big deal. Mid-call, I can push * and swap the call over to another of my Google Voice phones without dropping the call. This is great if you're on a phone meeting or on hold.

Answer by euvy

Beware! I love GV, but you cannot get MMS! This also means that if someone sends a group SMS from an iPhone, YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE IT because Apple changes group SMS to MMS. You don't even get an error message, nor does the sender.

Other than that, it has been everything I've ever needed. Even better with my Android phone making calls out with GV.

Other added bonus, we were able to port our home phone to GV via T-mobile (can't port directly to GV), also using an OBi110 adapter.

Answer by jimmer

Yes. For me, the most useful features are:

1) Sending and receiving text messages from Chrome. I text with my employees in the field all day long, and GV is invaluable for that.

2) Voicemail transcription. It's only 80-90% accurate, but that's enough to tell if a message is urgent.

3) Call screening. People I know and work with ring through, the rest have to identify themselves.

4) Carrier independence. I can drop my cell phone provider tomorrow and point GV to a new number or numbers at any point. No porting necessary.

5) 2 numbers at once. I moved to a new area but kept my old GV number. No need to worry if people haven't gotten my new number.

Answer by aweiss

I give out my g-voice number for everything- work, home, office. The web tool is what makes g-voice awesome. I spend time every couple of days on the site going over the most recent calls, texts, and voice mails in the call log, making notes and tags about each contact. This gives me a complete and searchable list of contacts I have had about certain projects, with certain people, etc. I also use this time to update my Google contact lists into groups and assign calling rules to different groups and to individual numbers. Some people I set up to always go straight to voice mail, some people get screened (call comes in and I can listen in to the caller as they leave a voice mail with the option of breaking in and taking the call if the call turns out to be important), and some calls will go straight through. Calls from numbers i don't know get greeted and asked their name and then I get the option of taking, screening, or sending their call to voice mail. I also set up custom greetings for different groups- some people get a professional, info-rich v-mail greeting, some people get a quick, "leave a message", and my wife and kids get an "I love you". I also use the call recording feature (star 4) when I really need to remember exactly what was said. I flag certain numbers as spam and they won't even ring my phone or clutter up my v-mail inbox. But my favorite feature is the that I can completely block certain numbers so that they get a tri-tone and "this number is not in service" message. The tri-tones are actually picked up by predictive dialers and are auto removed from automated calling lists. Since telemarketers share and sell scrubbed lists among each other, this has reduced the number of telemarketing calls I have received. My only regret is that I didn't get a number that spelled something clever or had a bunch of repeated numbers to make it easy for people to remember. That feature was added after I got my number and it really is a pain to change. On a side note, a couple of years ago, I turned an old Motorola Droid into a WiFi-only phone with its own g-voice number using a combination of g-voice and two other apps. (I don't recall the names of the apps.) No cell fees, no data plan, just free calls and texts via WiFi (outgoing and incoming). Gave it to my 7 year old and she left it out in the rain, though. Oh well.

Answer by jrickner

I've had a Google Voice number since they were available and use it as my main number. I think it is a great service and I will be sorry when Google kills it like Reader. Being able to route calls to any number that you have access to is so handy. When my phone battery died unexpectedly (I had 4G turned on where there was no 4G signal) I routed calls to an iPad via Talkatone.

A couple of considerations:

  MMS is not currently supported, not a big deal for me but a deal breaker for some.
  Some services will not recognize GV as a text number. I tried to set up 2 factor 
     authentication on a website, but the confirmation text to the GV number never
     came through. I had to send it to the phone's number.
Answer by clearcut
  • You get texts in your browser, even if your phone is in your bag. And you can see if someone is calling you.
  • You can reply to texts very efficiently via the desktop/laptop web interface. Plus, it kind of looks like you're working rather than texting.
  • Transcriptions are often hilarious. You get the gist of the message, and often a laugh too.
  • Nice ability to archive texts for the long haul. And I like being able to download mp3s of voicemails. but... -- Can't receive picture messages. -- Can't text overseas numbers.
Answer by csucg

I really loved Voice until Google removed the ability to call out from Gmail when they updated the Hangout feature. I don't always get good reception in my house, so using Google Voice to dial out was super useful. I still find Google Voice has plenty of positives, but my absolute favorite feature is now MIA. Having Google kill dial-out and Reader so close together has me really bummed out.

Answer by joshua

Absolutely. I ported my home land-line phone number to a mobile phone years ago, and ditched land-lines altogether. My employer now pays for my mobile phone service so I was able to port my old home phone number from the mobile to Google Voice for a one time $20 fee, and it can forward calls to that number to my work mobile. Hopefully Google will keep this service around -- It's well worth it to me to keep a number I've had for 15+ years.

Answer by ef27701

I would use my GV number as my primary number if it could receive picture messages. One day...

Until then, I still get good use out of it for the following reasons:

  • Voicemail transcription
  • Being able to text with my wife from my computer when I'm at work. (Instead of looking like a slacker fiddling with my phone all day.)
  • Dialing from my browser
  • Privacy - There are a few people who only get my GV number so I can cut them off and never have to hear from them again, if I decide to. I also use my GV number for any website that asks for it, for the same reason.
  • Spam filtering
  • Being able to set a ring schedule (not as big a factor, since it's not my primary number)
Answer by edsobo

I don't use it as my primary, and I don't even use it all that much. But I value it as a supplemental phone for when I have a long teleconference that I want to take at home and don't want to eat up my limited cellular voice minutes. I've also used it on vacation overseas, calling home for free over hotel WiFi. And finally, I've used it for outgoing overseas calls, since the per-minute rates are lower than it would be to add international calling and per-minute calls to my cell. I put $10 worth of credit into my account a few years ago and still have more than $8 there after a few calls from US to NZ.

Answer by tinyhands

I've used it since the GrandCentral days and LOVE it!

How else, other than Google Voice, can you give out one phone number that, when dialed, causes multiple cells phones, plus a land-line, to ring simultaneously?

Other features I love:

  • Transfer calls from cell to land-line or another cell by pressing *
  • Voice Mails transcribed and emailed to me
  • Ability to have certain incoming phone numbers go directly to voice mail
  • Ability to record calls by pressing 4 and later download an MP3 of the recording
Answer by kennethrow

Very useful for me, but yeah since there are apps now like Viber, things got much easier for ppl. Still, not having to worry about contracts, about number changing, about missing a call, if my phone is dead or even lost I still get email notifications on tablet about missed calls and voicemails and in Gmail on desktop I can even call or answer the phone calls just as usual, all phone calls, messages, contacts stay right where they are, so in the end the phone (and number that comes with it) is just that, a simple phone or carrier, nothing is tied to it, it is a FREEDOM that I see lot of people don't have, if they lose their phone? they are like half lost..

Answer by vaheg

One thing I haven't seen mentioned that I love about mine is the call transfers. I had a landline at my desk, and I prefer not to use cell phones because of the poor call quality. Transferring voice calls is easy, you just hit "#" (or maybe "*", can't remember, don't have a landline any more). All your other lines ring and you just pick up the other line and hang up your cell. Same process when you leave your desk.

Also if you have an Android the call integration is pretty good. You can set it to automatically route all outbound calls via your voice number, or have it prompt you on each call.

Also, FWIW, Google desks don't have landlines. If you need a "work" phone number, you're directed to the Voice signup page. I don't know what their future plans are, but tools used internally tend to have a higher bar for sunsetting.

Answer by shaftway

I'm the secretary for a local Democratic Club and I've used Google Voice to provide our organization with a contact number for just over two years. Our club officers work through a "virtual office" based on Gmail, GGroups and GDocs. We communicate with our members by Email, but now they can call to RSVP for events and make general inquiries.

I configured GVoice to redirect calls to my AT&T iPhone. The calling number tells me that it's club-related, so I can answer appropriately. When I can't pick up, the caller gets a nice "You have reached the Democratic Club..." greeting, and I get a text AND an email notification. It's no-cost and was easy to set up.

Answer by if then else

I love Google Voice and use it for my primary number for everything. I started using it as my work number, because I liked the fact that I could set it to ring many different phones at once, so I'd get calls no matter where I was. But I quickly adopted it as my primary personal number too, because it was just so useful.

Things I love:

  • One number for everything. No more worrying about porting or losing numbers, or having to inform anyone of a change.

  • Managing contacts and phone numbers via Gmail. Easy and intuitive.

  • Being able to record different greetings for different contacts, and different contact groups. All my "work" calls get an official voicemail, and my friends each have their own individualized voicemail that I can change when I want.

  • Texting through Chrome and the Chrome Voice extension is awesome.

  • Archiving text messages and voicemails, and having that history searchable by Google's powerful search engine means never getting rid of a message ever. I like having a record of things from years past.

  • Making calls right from my desktop without ever having to pick up a phone. Also one-click calling from my Contacts list.

  • Free videochatting with multiple parties (upcoming feature when Hangouts merges with Voice).

Things I don't love:

  • No MMS, as of yet. But this is supposedly changing as Hangouts merges with Voice in the near future. Google knows how badly we all want this.

Full disclosure: I'm a huge Google proponent, and because I'm Google everything (Gmail, Android phone, etc.), it seemed natural to adopt Google Voice. This might not be the case for everyone.

Answer by logan47474

I have a "Friends and Family" plan with my GV number assigned to my cell phone, and it forwards calls too (with the say your name filtering for "restricted" numbers). So it is free minutes, but I get cell-voice and not VoIP.

It is also a backup number, so if I lose my cell phone, I can move things so I can still use my tablet or other device to answer calls. Android contacts are usually in your google account.

If I've misplaced my phone, I can call it using GV and listen for where the ring is coming from.

Groove IP (from the Amazon App Store) lets me use it like Skype.

If I want to "livestream" some broadcast to my cell, I just call it and leave the computer on.

SMS is spotty but is sometimes useful.

If you have an old number (been in the family for years), you can port it so you won't miss long lost friends and relatives just trying it.

You can sometimes get a vanity number, 123-4567 is taken for all areacodes, but others are available.

Answer by tz1

I'm a Grand Central veteran too using GV as long as it has existed. For me, there are 2 killer features:

1. Free long distance calls

Yes, I still have a land line. I cancelled my "dial 1" long distance years ago thanks to GV. This has saved me hundreds of dollars. To make a call, I simply autodial my GV # and append a pause, then 2# (to indicated I want to initiate a call). Then, I either dial a number or use my phone auto-dialer. You need to press "#" to kick the call off so I put that in any stored numbers I have. I sometimes initiate calls from my browser and tell GV to ring my home. Somewhat easier since I can use GV Contacts to fetch the number.

I also use this at work to make long distance calls; easier than inputing (and remembering) my 9 digit "calling code" to initiate a call.

2. Free texting.

I have a "dumb" mobile phone and pay 25 cents per text. Since I am in a WiFi zone about 95% of the time, I only give out my GV number as my mobile number -- then I get incoming texts as email or popping up on the GV browser page or Goolge IOS app. While I could respond by email, I find it easier to type in the browser or APP.

Answer by james_weissman

I've been using GV plus an ObiHai (OB110) for about 2 years now for a home phone. It has been reliable and functions to provide voip thru a normal telephone with no cost other than upfront equipment. If Google wants to charge for it, I'll likely continue to pay because it's been a good service. The best feature is transcription of voicemail and forwarding to email. It's not very reliable for transcription, but does ok and includes a audio in the email. I forward messages to automatically to my email and my wifes email so a message goes immediately to both our smartphones. This has been great for school related autodial messages and drs appt reminders. No more waiting to listen to a computer.

It's important to remind people that there is no 911 service through this approach. That would have to be dealt with through another service to the OB110 box. There are several solutions I've read about; old mobile phone, land line, voip service with e911, but haven't pursued.

It did take a bit to get setup by transferring my home number temporarily to a T-mobile number and then on to Google Voice. This is obviously not the way Google was intending the service, since they are promoting the "one number to rule them all" approach. I did use GV for my cell number for a while and I did not think it added any benefit for that purpose.

Answer by jgillian

Love GV. Send VM by email. Easy text to many people. Record calls. Send recording by email. Change VM daily using preset recording. VM integrated with tmobile. Ring multiple phone number. International calls easy and inexpensive.

Answer by nathanchitty
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