Google Voice is one of the services people tend to say, "Is it still there? Are you still using it?" But don't be fooled by its longevity: People still use it – and you may want to .
Originally called GrandCentral before being purchased by Google in 2009 and only constantly updated since, Voice is a telecommunications service that works in conjunction with your existing telephone service and offers a free secondary phone number with voicemail, SMS features and other services. Once your number has been assigned (you get a lot to choose from) you can associate it with one or more mobile numbers or landline numbers.
When I first signed in to Google Voice in 2009, mobile operators still made it unnecessarily difficult to move your phone number if you changed the carrier, so you have a phone number that is easily moved to which device you want to use made life much easier. That is no longer the case. But over the years I have found the voice extremely helpful in a number of other ways.
For example, it is useful if you have more than one phone and want to make sure that the important people in your life can easily find you. If they call your voice number, you can set the voice to ring all your phones. You can create a separate company number on your personal phone. It is helpful if you sometimes use temporary phones (for example, I thought it was very handy when I reviewed phones and wanted to bring me a couple of weeks). You can get a number to give to sellers and organizations you want to keep in touch with, but who can sell the number to spam. And so on.
Of course, Google Voice is not the only service that offers extra numbers for the phone. There are also other services out there, such as Hushed and Burner. Although the Voice interface is a bit old-fashioned (despite a relatively new update) and (this is Google) there is always the chance that the company will suddenly decide to get rid of it, it is a very good option.
You can sign up for Google Voice either on the web or by downloading the Google Voice app from the Google Play Store or Apple's App Store. I found it a little easier to make the first registration via the web; However, the process is almost identical on a mobile phone.
Sign up for Google Voice
- Choose your Google Voice number. Google allows you to choose from multiple locations in your region. If you don't like the first numbers, you can continue clicking "Show more" until you find one you like. (Not ad infinitum, of course, finally, you stop.) Click "Verify." Verify what? Well, once you have selected your number, you must verify that you have an existing phone number to associate with the Google Voice number.
- Note: You can only associate a single phone number with a voice number. But if you already have a Google Voice number associated with your current number and you want another, there is a way around it ̵
- You will be asked to enter your existing phone number so that you can text a Sex Number (if you do not want text, you can choose to make a phone call). Once you have received the code, enter it where it is indicated.
That's it! You have linked your new Google Voice number to your existing number.
So what now?
Adjusting Voice to Suit Your Needs
There are a number of adjustments you can make depending on how you want to use the service. Some are described below. These were tested using the mobile app on an Android phone; the iOS device interface is similar.
All the following tweaks can be found in the Settings section of the app. If you use the Android app, reach them by tapping the three parallel lines at the top left of the home screen, then selecting Settings from the resulting menu.
Use Voice to call
- Scroll down to and press "Calls initiated from this unit's phone app".
- Choose whether to make calls with your Google Voice number or phone number. You can also choose which one to use each time you call, or just use Voice for International Calls. (Domestic calls through Google Voice are free, while international calls have a charge. The charge for international calls is likely to be less than your carrier.)
Receive incoming calls with Voice
- Scroll down to and press "Call Forwarding."
- You will see a list of all the devices you have registered with Voice. Change your voicemail greeting
- Scroll down to and tap "Voicemail greeting."
- You can use a general "Google subscriber you have called is not available. Please leave a message after the tone," or a slightly more personalized "
is not available. Please leave a message after the tone." Or you can record your own.
Choose how you are notified when you have a message or miss a call.
Scroll down to and press "Notification Notification" or "Missed Ring Messages." There are a variety of options you have here; The elections are basically the same in both cases. Options include:
- Switch messages on and off.
- View your messages in the status bar.
- Use alarm screen messages.
- Select a ringtone for a message and / or vibrate the phone when a message arrives.
There are even more features in the Google Voice setup menu. In addition to those already mentioned, you can switch "Do Not Disturb" on or off so that all calls are immediately sent to the voicemail. record all incoming calls; get transcripts of your voicemail via text or email; hide your number and screen call by hearing a voter's name when you download.
Try older Google Voice
Google upgraded the web version of Google Voice 2017 and simplified the interface to work with the company's material design. But some users still prefer the older interface (especially since, despite the more cramped user interface, you can more easily tweak some aspects of the service).
It's worth checking out. To access the older version of Google Voice:
- Visit the main page at https://voice.google.com.
- Click on the three parallel lines in the upper left corner of the window. This opens the page menu (which only showed some icons) and adds an icon and label to the Legacy Google Voice. Click on it.
- Take a look at your settings by clicking on the gear icon at the top right.
Messages with Google Voice
A description of Voice would be incomplete if the message was not included. As with the phone number that comes with the phone's SIM card, you can use your Google Voice app for text to any number using SMS. The app uses your voice number.
Unfortunately, Google's other apps are not so friendly to voicemails. While you can call others using Voice and they will see your Voice phone number, if you are texting to someone who uses a different app than Voice (says the app's Google messages), the recipient will see the text coming from the phone number rather than your voice number.
There is one exception: you can use the Google Hangouts app to send and receive text messages with your voice number (and only your voice number, Hangouts ended up being a general SMS app back in 2017). What will eventually happen to Hangouts is still up in the air (it's because it is sunny for G Suite customers here in October), but it's an option.
Google Voice has not experienced any dramatic changes over the past ten years. But it can be very useful if you want a flexible phone number to use – and unlike other Google products, it seems to have power. It's really worth a try.
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