Blog Post

Google Voice to Offer Phone and Messaging Services

google-voice-logoGoogle Voice wants to be your phone manager, SMS and voicemail provider. The service is rumored to be almost ready for public access.

Google Voice germinated after Google (s goog) acquired GrandCentral almost two years ago. The service was relaunched earlier this year as a private beta for GrandCentral users. I’ve been using it for a while, and am generally impressed. Google Voice offers a number of features that should make it popular with web workers.

Incoming Calls and SMS

  • You are given one phone number that can be configured to ring multiple places — office, home, cell phone or even an account on the VoIP service Gizmo5. (In the past, users were assigned a new telephone number. Apparently, it will soon be possible to port existing numbers to Google Voice.) Sound quality is quite good, although there can be a delay in transmission, which causes awkward pauses. It’s rather like a better version of talking via satellite.
  • If you are not available, voicemails are recorded. They can be transcribed and sent to you by email or SMS. The accuracy of the transcriptions varies, but ranges from fair to excellent.


  • You can choose to screen some or all callers, and have them speak their name before the call is forwarded to you. You can set up groups, and allow some callers to bypass screening.
  • You can “listen in” on callers as they leave messages, or record calls.
  • You can import your contacts through CSV files.

Outgoing Calls and SMS

  • Google-Voice-screenshot-2You can make outgoing calls through the Google Voice web site. Outgoing calls are free in the continental U.S. International calling rates are quite reasonable, and are competitive with many VoIP services.
  • With the Google Voice Add-on for Firefox, you don’t even need to go to the Google Voice web site to make calls. You can just click the add-on and enter a number. And the add-on recognizes phone numbers on web pages and makes them clickable links, too.
  • You can also send SMS messages through the Google Voice web site and the Firefox add-on. When you do so, you are assigned a number in area code 406 that allows recipients to reply.

There are a number of other useful features, including conference calling. The complete list is at Google Voice help.

Are you already using Google Voice? Will you sign up once it becomes available?

28 Responses to “Google Voice to Offer Phone and Messaging Services”

  1. Google Voice is free, sure, and like I said, it’s been a personal help when I had an issue that rendered my phone unusable. However, there’s a difference between accepting an app that does a pretty good job and pushing a company to make a better product that will ultimately benefit you more. Consumers do that all the time with feedback, and most software-makers listen. It’s to everyone’s advantage.

    That’s why I suggested that Google should introduce tiered services, so that those who want to stick with the free service can do so, and those who want to upgrade to higher quality can also go that route. More choices are better in my book.

  2. At Ringio we are using and offering a google voice business solution that combines the simplicity and usefulness of GV with some of the features that small businesses want, such as routing to multiple employees, sharing contacts, and popping on the screen when a new call comes in.

  3. E – Some carriers charge for this forwarding and it generally is one number. You need to contact the carrier and wait for them to make the change.

    It is my understanding that you can set up any 3 numbers in advance to ring simultaneously or certain phones on ring from certain callers.

    I need this as no carriers work in my house, so if I had this “I could answer my home phone” when someone called my mobile number.

    There are a few things that I not clear on.

    Will Google issue a new phone number that you have to distribute to everyone that you would like to receive calls from? Or do you just provide them your current phone number and make your forwarding setting on the web.

    On T-mobile what happens when you make or receive a call to your “Favorites” from your mobile or home phone? Will you be charged against your minutes?

    Thanks in advance!

  4. So you would have to give out a new phone number to EVERYONE you know? And put a message on your office voicemail to call you at your Google number from now on? I’m having a hard time seeing how this is useful when most phone plans have call forwarding services anyway. Enlighten me somebody.

  5. I got my number! Picking a number was a challenge because they didn’t have 907 (Alaska) or 307 (Wyoming) area codes where I live and do a lot of business. So went for something easy to remember with L-O-V-E in it. Hey, it is easy to remember!

  6. 1- Let’s say I get invited from Google Voice
    2-Is my mobile phone gonna have two numbers? (Google and let’s say O2?)
    3- Can people with other networks (O2 or Vodafone) call me on my GV number? Will they pay for that call?I don’t get it!!
    4- Will I pay if I call other networks?
    5- Sounds great but I don’t get if that is just gonna work just among Google Voice users or not.

  7. I was a GrandCentral user who was holding his breath when Google acquired that company. Must let you know that Google took an already great product and has made it already radically better. Kudos to Google for this.

  8. Mark, I get Google Voice SMS messages on my cell phone, just like “regular” SMS messages. In fact, I didn’t realize at first that they were going to my Google Voice phone number until I logged into my account and saw them there.

    If you set Google Voice to notify you of voicemail messages via SMS, you’ll get SMS that way too. :-)