Blog Post

Google Voice, Now Serving on Your Numbers

[qi:gigaom_icon_voip]About two years ago, I signed up for a service called GotVoice, which allowed me to aggregate voicemails from my residential, VoIP, PBX and wireless numbers in one place. It transcribed the voicemails for a small fee, and it delivered them as attachments to my email or as SMS messages. In short, it’s a nifty little service that almost always does the job. [digg=]

It’s not cheap — but then you get what you pay for. If you don’t want to pay anything and want to contribute to the continued education of the Google borg, then you can use Google Voice to get access to your mobile voicemails, in addition to other features.

Google Voice is slimming down and offering a new service that doesn’t need you to choose a new number. From the Google blog:

Up until now, if you wanted to use Google Voice, you needed to choose a new number (a “Google number”). Taking calls through your Google number allows us to offer features like call recording, call screening and getting text messages via email. But we know not everyone wants to switch to a new phone number, so it made sense for us to create a lighter version of Google Voice for people who are willing to trade some features for the ability to use their existing numbers.

This video explains it all.

While this is interesting, if Google really wants to disrupt, it should release a service that automatically forwards all our SMS messages to a Google Voice inbox. Then we really don’t need the phone company.

20 Responses to “Google Voice, Now Serving on Your Numbers”

  1. What I’m wondering is if I can have incoming text messages from specific people go into my google inbox instead of popping up on my mobile device…

    in other words I don’t want my lover giving me the side eye when all the hoes from my past try to attempt a booty txt at 3am

  2. This ‘keep your number’ solution is nothing new, and is not nearly as integrated as one thinks (looking at the video, for example). Google uses ‘call forward on no answer’ to forward incoming calls from your mobile to their voice mail server (that is the special ‘setup’ you do on your phone). Other companies have been doing this for a while.

    My problem with such solutions:
    1. It breaks the native voice mail interface of your phone. For example, it breaks iphone’s visual voice mail because the call was ‘forwarded’ as far as your network is concerned
    2. Remember that certain operators may charge you for ‘two call legs’ each time you forward a call this way.

  3. I had this service through Grand Central, then it rolled over to Google Voice or they sent me an invite to Google Voice. I signed up but I haven’t used the service yet. I’ll give it a try one day. I really want a Google Wave invite so I can do a review on it. That I would definitively use more often, since Im always on my email. LOL.

    Great post!


    Arie Rich

  4. This undermines companies like YouMail (which acquired the free consumer business of GotVoice in January) and others that offer free voice mail (using the same forwarding method as Google Voice), and try to make money charging for transcription.

    For now, the for-pay transcription services offer superior accuracy and quality, but as you mention Google learns from every free transcription it offers (via the little “Transcription useful?” checkboxes next to the transcribed messages), so eventually its accuracy will improve.

    • Robert,

      “..eventually its accuracy will improve”..

      Some of us have been waiting for that day to arrive for 15 years now. To improve speech recognition accuracy, training data is necessary but not sufficient. Background noise and variations in human speech is keeping speech recognition accuracy limited. It may get good enough for voicemail in a few years, though, partly because popularity of Google Voice may bring a certain acceptance of inaccurate speech recognition. (But there are other mobile apps like email dictation where the accuracy needs to be still higher.)

  5. Depending on your carrier, some allow you to forward SMS/TXT messages.

    Or, as even with Google Voice, just the way it works with phone calls, it also works with TXT messages. If you give people your Google Voice number, they can TXT message to that number, and you will receive it both on your mobile handset, as well as Google Inbox.

  6. I have used RingCentral for years as a voice/fax inbox, love having one place for all those messages. So I can see Google Voice Messages being popular for people who want the extra features and consolidation of land-line and mobile messages.

    But Google’s implementation may confuse people who don’t understand that the “Activate Voicemail” link means that you are ditching your existing carrier’s voicemail system.

  7. looks to me like google wants to get out of the free DID and call termination business. this is a test of the waters. the whole justification of outbound calls has always been to provide your GV number as caller ID, that justification just went away.

    i expect some pretty severe backlash if it is not explained very clearly that users will at the minimum be charged airtime for forwarded calls and in some cases large additional charges.

    this will not be a very popular option. most people want GV accounts for the free number and outbound calling. many actually find the voice mail a nuisance that they are willing to tolerate for the free stuff. there have been many free voice mail offerings over the years that work this same way. none have become popular.

  8. “While this is interesting, if Google really wants to disrupt, they should release a service that automatically forwards all our SMS messages to a Google Voice inbox. And then we really don’t need the phone company.”

    What do you mean by that?

    If you mean SMS messages sent to your carrier-phone-number, isn’t that impossible?

    And if you mean SMS messages sent to your Google Voice number, isn’t that what Google already does?