I’m a big fan of Google and most of what they offer. Google docs, Gmail, and Google Voice are among my favorites (not a big fan of Buzz at the moment). I was recently engaged in a discussion about Google Voice on a domain forum. I was surprised how many people hadn’t even tried the service yet. If you’re not familiar, Google will give you a new phone number, or you can use your cell phone number if you prefer. What exactly is it? Well, several things. Google Voice allows you to have one number that will ring all of your phones. For example, if you have a land line at home, a cell phone, and an office phone, you can set GV up to ring all those phones anytime someone calls you at your Google number.
That alone is pretty cool. You just give out your new number and you can get calls anywhere from anyone. But we’re just getting started. If you receive a call on your cell phone through your GV number and now your at home you can press a couple of keys and pick up your home phone to seamlessly continue the conversation without burning up your cell minutes. Or even better, if you’re at work and you’re still on a call at quitting time, you can switch over to your cell and finish the call on your way home.
GV also transcribes your voice messages to text and will email and SMS them to you. Granted, the automated transcription isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough to give you an idea of what the message is about if you don’t feel like dialing in to listen to it. You can also play the voice message from your GV page or through your email if you have Gmail.
The call widget is a handy feature you can use on your websites. The call widget is something you add to your web page that allows users to initiate a call with you without actually knowing your number. You can set the widget to call any one of your phones or go directly to voice mail. This gives you the opportunity to customize a message for any and all pages you use the widget on. You could even use it to provide informative messages to your audience and allow them to use the voicemail to provide feedback. I’m currently using the widget on just one of my sites, but I plan to use it on other sites in different ways in the future.
Here is an example of a widget with a custom message:
One thing GV doesn’t have at the moment isVOIP calling (like Skype), but with the acquisition of Gizmo5, I think we can expect to see that soon. There is a Blackberry app that allows you to make outbound calls from your phone using the GV number. There are many more features, so I encourage you to check it out. I have one GV invite left for the first person who wants it.