Get to know Google Voice: A walkthrough

Sections: Cellular Providers, Communications, Email / IM, Features, How To, Mobile, VoIP

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google voice logoGoogle’s put some serious investment into Google Voice and I am fired up about it. I am a longtime user of GrandCentral and have come to love and hate it. Here is a five minute walkthough (actual times may vary, but that is all on you) on how you can love this service too.

Google Voice phone settings

Ring this phone, and that phone or that one over there.

Google Voice provides you with a phone number. From that one number you can set up the service to ring your home, cell, work, mistress, payphone, fire chief, etc. So, one call to your Google Voice number can ring all these numbers you entered, simultaneously. How is this helpful? I’ve got work calls coming to my GV number and if I don’t feel like burning cell minutes, I can pick up the land line. Google allows you to control when your Google Voice number rings each phone (weekdays, weekends, or custom). These options are an improvement over the old GrandCentral.

Setting up voicemail

Google thought this one out pretty well too. Instead of relying on some microphone you’ve got hooked to your computer, it dials you on any of the numbers you’ve entered in to record your personal greeting (if you like) or name. Pretty clever.

When a new voicemail comes in, you can have Google send you an email or an SMS text to your phone. I’ve used both option with GrandCentral and they worked well. Currently, I simply send the email to my Exchange mailbox.

Google Voice

Screen your calls

This feature has been around and honestly I am not a fan. You can have Google Voice screen your calls which boils down to the person phoning you is greeted with “this is Google Voice, please state your name and hold please” after this information is relayed to you, you have the option of rejecting, sending to voicemail, listening in to the voicemail or man-up and take the call (or woman-up I guess). Personally, I stopped ducking calls so this wasn’t attractive to me.

Other settings include choosing the caller ID to forward to you or just your Google Voice number so you can know where the number is routing through. I see the need for both options but I go with the callers. There is a handy “Do Not Distrub” button for sending calls straight to voicemail. I love that and cannot wait for the Google app to integrate these Google Voice controls

Call and SMS

I find I am starting to use these more and more. You can click on Call, select a number from your GMail contacts and pick which phone you wish to take the call on. The SMS works simlar to the GMail chat, pick a number and fire away IM style. Both seem to be reliable.

Google Voice widgets

Call Widgets

Wanna put your number out there but not really? A call widget is what you seek, create one and your number stays hidden but the callers can reach you based on your settings. You can create widgets with their own set of conditions which is pretty handy.


Here is something brand new from Google, using the engine from their GOOG 411 service, the team will send your voicemail through transcription transforming the voicemail to text. I’ve been using PhoneTag for some time now and love it. While the CEO of PhoneTag says Google’s transcription is “total crap,” I found it to be just so so. There were loads of errors I don’t see with PhoneTag, but you get what you pay for.

Overall, I am thrilled with the upgrade and can’t wait to get into it more. Even more so, I am thrilled they upgraded my account before our Editor Iyaz…

Check out our announcement: [Gadgetell]

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  • Khürt Williams

    I've had my "Grand Central"/Google Voice account for a few years. I was wondering when Google would get around to doing something with it. Like the new name too. My favourite features are the call back/ring back and the "Answer the call and record it".

  • Khürt Williams

    I can only speculate that Google is rolling this out first to the media since as of today I still am not able to move my 2 year old account to Google Voice.

  • JG Mason

    I doubt I am Google's radar. I signed up for GC before I became a blogger, so my account shouldn't attract too much attention. Keep hanging in there, it is worth it.

  • Benjamin

    Please send me an invite!!! I'm changing my phone number next week and I really want to give out my Google Voice # instead.