I have too many phones. I feel better having admitted that. Right now I have the flagship smartphone on every major U. S. carrier — Verizon (s vz) BlackBerry Storm, T-Mobile G1 (Android), AT&T (s t) iPhone 3G and the Sprint (s s) Palm Pre. Wow, that’s a real mouthful! Now, before everyone jumps all over me, I readily admit I don’t need all of those phones — in fact, I could get by with one just like everyone else. My work here, though, means I need to cover not only these phones, but the carriers, too, so thus the stable of smartphones. Having four phones (and phone numbers) has been driving me crazy, but this week I got into Google (s goog) Voice, and I am living free and easy now.
Google Voice is still in private beta — you have to get invited in to get an account. It’s been running for a while now, and those who had Grand Central accounts (Google bought them) got grandfathered in, so quite a few of you are already enjoying Google Voice. I didn’t have an old account, so I never got an invite, and I’ll truthfully admit I pulled some strings to get one. I won’t name names, as I don’t want anyone to get in trouble, but thank you, you know who.
Once I had the account active, I entered in each of my four phone numbers. The security was top-notch; after entering in a phone number, Google called that phone and asked me to enter the security code on the phone that was displayed on the computer screen. Once that was done, my phone was activated on the Voice account. I repeated that three more times, and all four of my phones were activated for Google Voice.
Why is Google Voice making me so happy? I now have the one Google-supplied phone number to share with others. That one number now reaches me, either phone calls or text messages, no matter which of the four phones I am using at the time. Yes, when someone calls me at the Google Voice number, the service starts trying to reach me on all of the phones. Whichever one I am using rings, and I talk away. If I don’t feel like talking, I can send it to voice mail, just like a normal call. Text messages work the same way; I get them right away and can even reply to them via Google Voice on the phone. Nice and easy.
I can’t state emphatically enough how big an impact this has had on my life. Prior to Google Voice, I had to decide which phone I was going to use on a given day, and then manually forward the other three phone numbers to that phone. More importantly, when I switched phones, I had to remember to cancel all of that forwarding and redo it to the new phone. I forgot that more than a few times and missed calls. I would miss voice mail frequently, too. I could never remember which phone number I had given a particular contact, either.
Google is onto something big here with Voice. It’s still in beta, but it’s solid already and can only get better. It’s making me a happy caller once again, even though with four phones, I am the exception and not the rule. Oh, did I mention they do text transcriptions of voice mails? I am using that to leave myself voice mails with ideas for posts that get transcribed so I can copy and paste it to start blog posts. Woot!