Monday, August 10, 2009

Google Voice Worth A Look

So how many telephone numbers do you have? Not too long ago that would seem like a strange question. Today, it is very common for many of us to have multiple telephone lines and numbers and multiple voicemail boxes. Many of us have a home phone and a phone at work as well as a mobile phone. It is not uncommon for families to have mobile phones for both parents and each of the kids.

So what number do you give to family, friends and business colleagues? With the blurring of “work time” and “home time” that decision is not always easy. The issue is even more complex, since many of us, myself included, try to keep our mobile number somewhat protected from the telemarketers and other electronic miscreants who call at the most inopportune times.

The folks at Google, the Internet search engine behemoth, will soon roll out a new free service that addresses this issue. Called “Google Voice,” the service has been in testing for sometime, and according to Google sources, will be available to the general public in a month or so. I have set up an account and I have to say I am impressed.

Google Voice provides the user with a new telephone number. The subscriber gives that number to individuals instead of any of the “real” numbers assigned to your home, office or mobile phones. When you set up the system, you decide where you want the various incoming calls to go. For instance, if you give the number to a business associate, when he or she calls, the call will be routed only to the office line. If you give the number to a neighbor, you can program it to ring only the home or mobile lines. For your spouse or other important persons, you can direct the system to ring all the lines simultaneously if they should call. For those you don’t want to talk to at all, the calls can go directly to voice mail.

Another great feature is a single voicemail box. Instead of checking the office voicemail, the home answering machine and your mobile voicemail, all messages are stored in one place. Google will even allow the voice messages to be available in text format for reading and saving via a special web page or sent to you via email or to your phone as a text message, or all of the above.

There are several other features within Google Voice such as screening spam callers or telemarketers and automated dialers. You can even record incoming or outgoing messages. Perhaps the best part is that is FREE!

Google Voice is an expansion of a service called “Grand Central” that has been available for sometime and should be ready for general use very soon. You can put your name on a list for notification at

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