By Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour
- Have a separate phone number for your business without getting a separate phone?
- Have one phone number that rings on multiple phones?
- Have a phone number that can spell something meaningful to you?
- Receive a written transcript of your voice mails?
- Use your computer to make phone calls?
- Use your computer to send/receive text messages?
- Get a phone number with a different area code from where you bought your phone?
If you answered Yes to any of the above, you owe it to yourself to look into Google’s Voice service. I think this is especially useful for RVers who are constantly traveling and don’t want to be tied down. You can purchase any phone from any provider – even Walmart – and with a few clicks on your computer your Google Voice number is ringing on that phone.
I have 3 smartphones: an iPhone, a Samsung, and a cheap LG (from Walmart!). Why? Because I teach people how to use them and I need as much experience as I can get. Yet, I still need to make and receive phone calls, and I’m not going to give out 3 different numbers for people to try. I use Google Voice as my phone number, then, at any time I can go to my Google Voice settings and tell it what phones to ring on. If you use one Google Voice phone number, you can use the cheap phone when you’re on a boat, and the expensive phone at other times. You will receive your calls on both of them, and when you make a call it will be “from” your Google Voice number. You can buy your phones from anywhere, without ever using the phone number associated with them.
You do need to have a traditional phone service to your phone, then the Google Voice service piggy-backs on that. But, you can also use a computer to make a call using your Google Voice number – no phone necessary at all! We also have a different Google Voice number for our business. It usually rings on my husband’s phone, but if he wanted to take a break, it’s easy to change the settings and make it ring on my phone instead, or make it ring on both phones, or make it go straight to voice mail and not ring on either phone! We love that the voice mail is transcribed as well as recorded, then forwarded on to our email inbox.
This is only available in the US. All you need is a Google Account – got an @gmail.com address? – you’re all set. Then just browse over to Voice.Google.com and pick a phone number. For more information, here’s the official help screen for Google Voice.
- App: Google Voice
- Developer: Google, Inc.
- Cost: Free (U.S. only)
- Platform: iOS, Android – requires Google account