by Dave Alm
Google Voice is a new gizmo from the Google gang. It integrates all of your various telephones under one new phone number and adds a lot of very nifty features.
It has a waiting list. I signed up for it over a month ago and just received an invition to join yesterday.
What I most like about it so far is two things. First my family and friends and customers can call one number. It rings all of my phones, and wherever I am, I can take the call there. You can set rules by time of day, caller, etc. You might not want customer calls after five or on weekends. No calls from numbers you have not authorized, and so on.
Second, and the real killer thing for me, is: if nobody answers it goes to voice mail, and then a transcript is made and emailed to me. I can look at in an email on my phone or computer. Their web interface is identical to Gmail, so it is very easy to get going on.
You do not get to choose the new number, nor do you get to use an existing one, but you get to choose from many possible numbers in your area so it is a local call, or for that matter any number in the country. This would be a nice way to give yourself extensions in other cities! It also gives you extremely low long distance rates to other countries. (I have not tried that part yet...)
Another nifty feature is the ability to listen to messages while they are being left. You can record custom greetings for your favorite callers or block annoying callers by marking them as SPAM -- just click on the settings link at the top of your inbox.
This is a fun new product that seems to have a lot of possible uses. It is a window into the future of how telephony is evolving in a decentralized way. It is free at the current time. If this sounds at all interesting you will want to go to their web site at: https://www.google.com/voice/about Sign up for an account and in a month or so you too will have a shiny new Google Voice toy!