Nothing in life is free, right? Everyone has heard of Google, most everyone uses Google daily to search and tons of people use the free Gmail e-mail service (including me). Google has a ton of other services and applications you can use for free, and one of them is a great service I love called Google Voice.
What Google Voice exactly does is a little tough for some folks to get their heads around, but let me try and explain it. Google Voice provides you a free phone number that gets associated to your Google account. People can call this phone number, and you can even dial out any make calls on it, but it is entirely “in the cloud”. Google doesn’t come to your house and install phone lines. Google doesn’t send you a cell phone. What you do have to do is provide it with a “regular” phone number (such as your cell phone number), and it will forward any calls to your Google number to your cell phone.
OK, so what’s the big deal, right? Forwarding one number to another doesn’t seem that cool, or even particularly helpful. Here is the big deal. You can make your GV (Google Voice) number your primary number. The one you give to everyone you ever want to call you. If your cell phone number ever changes, you just change your forwarding on the Google Voice number and no one has to be told a new number. You now have a permanent number that you never have to worry about losing, assuming Google stays in business.
That is kind of cool, never having to worry about what number you get from your cell phone company, or if you change providers, etc. It doesn’t stop here. Google Voice can handle your voice mail. You can still check and be notified of them on your smart phone, but you can also check them online, from anywhere. Google Voice also transcribes your voice messages for you, so you usually don’t even have to play them back, just read the mostly reasonable translation of your messages.
SMS (text messaging)? No problem, Google Voice handles text messaging too. Send and receive texts from your Google Voice number. You can send and receive them from your phone or you can send and receive them online!
Want more? How about automatic spam filtering. Known spam callers are sent straight to junk box. If you get a call from a telemarketer or someone else you don’t want to hear from, you can block that number from calling your GV number and they just get the phone has been disconnected message. This really cuts down on the annoying phone calls. How about forwarding your calls to multiple different phones? It can ring you wherever you are. You can record calls too.
Everything above is free. GV charges nothing for text messages, nothing for domestic calling, voice mail, or transcribing. They have very low international calling rates too. If you are accessing these services on your cell phone, you will incur usage charges. Depending on your carrier, you can use voice for voice calls and SMS usage for your texts. However, you can also send your calls and SMS over your data connection, using cell data or even better, WiFi data instead. Which is great when using a metered carrier like Ting!
Wait a minute, didn’t I promise a free landline? This post is getting a little long, so check out part 2 to get the scoop on how the Obihai Obi200 can make this a reality.