Google Voice can now boot unknown callers to oblivion (or VM)

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Google added new calling features to Google Voice on Wednesday, giving users more controls over incoming calls. While you could always customize ringtones or actions — such as sending someone to voicemail — you could only do so for known callers. With the new improvements, Google Voice can now handle custom actions for people in your address book and for anonymous callers.

From Google’s blog post, here’s how the new groups can be used:

  • People in your address book: this allows you to customize the experience of all contacts in your address book. This also works by exclusion. For example, you can set a special greeting just for people in your address book, or screen anyone not in your address book.
  • For anonymous callers: these are callers who do not have a caller ID. They sometimes appear as unknown, or restricted, depending on why the caller’s number is not shown. You can use this group to for example screen any call without a caller ID.

As a daily Google Voice user, I can tell you these are welcome additions. My phones ring day in and day out for story and product pitches and while I do have many PR contacts in my address book, many of my calls are from unrecognized numbers. With each new feature, Google Voice becomes more of a personal communications platform, not simply a voice calling app with some whiz-bang features.

Google says you can manage these groups from within a browser pointed at your Google Voice account page, so don’t look to manage actions for these groups in one of the Google Voice mobile apps. At least not yet. But you can customize actions for these groups in a mobile browser. I tested it in Google Chrome for Android and once I switched to the Desktop View, it wasn’t a problem to access these controls.

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