Now that Google’s (s goog) free telephone forwarding, screening and voicemail service Google Voice is open to anyone in the U.S., web workers are finding many creative ways to use it. Google Voice has an extensive list of features; here are a few ideas on how to use them:
- Forward cell or landline numbers to Google Voice. It’s not yet possible to port existing numbers to Google Voice, but forwarding allows you to take advantage of its automated message transcription service and some of its other features. Not surprisingly, the quality of the transcriptions varies, but they’re generally good enough to save the hassle of calling your voicemail to listen to messages.
- Create a “voicemail-only” Google Voice number to use when you don’t want to give out your real phone number. When setting up such an account, you’ll need to forward it to an existing number in order to verify it, but you can then set the number to “Do Not Disturb, ” or delete the forwarding number entirely in the Google Voice web interface.
- Create numbers in area codes other than your own. The phone company used to charge huge fees for “foreign exchange” numbers; now, you can create a Google Voice number in any U.S. area code where numbers are available (and there are lots to choose from, except in Alaska and Hawaii).
- Create numbers that spell something memorable or fun. When searching for a new number, you can type in a word, and Google Voice will find numbers that spell what you’re looking for, or you can use a site like PhoneSpell.
- Set up Google Voice numbers to track marketing campaigns. Using multiple numbers is an easy and free way to find out how effective a particular advertising medium is.
Note that Google Voice only allows you to sign up for one number per email address. But email addresses don’t have to be Gmail accounts; any valid email address will do. Also, you can only forward one Google Voice number to a specific phone number, and you can’t forward one Google Voice number to another Google Voice number.
What creative ways have you found for using Google Voice?
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