In a nutshell, Google Voice is a telecommunications service that helps you manage and customize your phone, voicemail and SMS usage. By signing up with Google Voice, you can have one phone number that can access all of your numbers (home, mobile and work). While your number may change if you switch carriers, your Google Voice number stays the same for life, unless you choose to change it.
Google Voice sign-up is free and open to all people residing in North America. Google Voice currently provides free PC-to-PC voice and video calling worldwide. Additionally, free PC-to-phone calls are available in North America until the end of 2013. In terms of paid service, Google Voice users in the US may make low-cost calls to international phone numbers. When people dial your Google Voice number, you can have it dialed your cell, home or work phone depending on who the callers are. You can set up custom voicemail greeting for individual contact or group.
Other Google Voice features include:
- Voicemail transcription (accuracy of the transcription is still to be desired)
- Voicemail delivered to your inbox
- Notification of voicemail messages via email or SMS
- Custom voicemail greeting for groups
- Send, receive, and store SMS online
- Call routing. Selection of phones that should ring based on calling number
- Blocking calls from specified numbers
- Listening in on someone’s recording of a voice message before taking a call (press 2 while answering, * to “pick up”)
- Conference calling
- Switching of phones during a call
- Make and Receive calls from within Gmail
- Ability to change your number for a fee ($10 as of this writing)
Besides the listed features, you can use third party apps from Android and iPhone to make free call using WiFi or your mobile data plan. You can also use devices like the OBi100 or OBi202 to replace your landline.
So, if you are interested in trying out Google Voice and already have a Google account (or if you are already using Gmail), then you can sign up at http://www.google.com/voice.
If you don’t have a Google account, you can follow the how-to guide here on how to get a Google Voice number.
You will find all the information here on how to set up and use Google Voice. If you have any questions or problems registering or problems using Google Voice, you can post your issues here.