Friday, April 5, 2013

Free Texting Brought to You by Google Voice

Google Voice is a service provided for free by Google that attaches to an app on your cell phone to provide some amazing features including free texting through your data plan. If you’re anything like me and like to find cool ways to save a little extra money and maybe even get some really cool features at the same time, then I think you’ll love Google Voice.

Though the ability to send and receive text messages for free regardless of whether or not the person on the other end is using Google Voice may be my favorite feature of the service, it has some additional features well worth taking a look at that make it a great option for any situation.
1)      Ring multiple phones – when you first sign up with Google Voice you will get a phone number that goes with the account. This is the number that your friends and family will call to get in touch with you, regardless of whether they’re trying to reach your home, work, or cellular phone. What you need to do is attach the numbers for your different phones to your Google Voice account and select the option to have calls forwarded to them from your Google Voice phone number. This can be used to ring all your phones at the same time so you get the call no matter where you are, or set up to forward to a particular phone during certain hours of the day (like your work phone between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.). Any time outside the preset range will forward the call to your Google Voice voicemail box.
2)      One voicemail box – with the ability to attach multiple phone numbers to the Google Voice service you can condense your home, work, and cellphone voicemail systems into one easily managed system for them all. The system will even transcribe the messages for you so you can read them or listen to them through the app on your phone and even respond to them via text message. In addition, you don’t need to have just one voicemail message. Using your contact list you can set up a unique message for certain groups and individuals in addition to a standardized message for any unrecognized numbers.
3)      Managing unwanted callers – if you’re getting unwanted calls, you can use Google Voice to screen these calls, or even block numbers that keep calling through the settings on the services webpage.
4)      Free Texting – although I mentioned it already, my favorite feature of Google Voice is the ability to send and receive your text messages through your data plan regardless of whether or not those on the other end are using Google Voice. Because texts are so small in terms of data, the effect on your usage is negligible and this allows you to drop that $5-$10 texting service, or downgrade your plan to just a talk + data plan or a regular talk plan with a cheap data service.

Though the features offered by the Google Voice service are, in my opinion, well worth the hassles, there are a couple complications in regard to the services set up that should be noted.
1)      New number – because of the way Google Voice is set up it is important that you accept the offer for a new number. While this involves the hassle of informing friends and family that you have a new number and not to call or text through the old one anymore, it’s the last time you’ll ever have to do so (as you can attach new phones to this number later), the new number comes with all the features listed above, and it’s the easiest option for full functionality of the service. If however you want to keep your current number, you can do that to and just use a more limited version of the service (basically just the voicemail features) or port your current number from your current wireless carrier over to Google Voice. There’s a $20 charge to do this plus it’s equivalent to cancelling your contract with you wireless carrier (if you have one) so there could be early cancellation fees as well and your number will be offline for up to 5 days during the transition. However if you don’t have a contract, this is a good way to go as it only costs $20 and saves you the trouble of telling everyone about your new number, because it’ll simply be your old one.
2)      Full vs. lite – As mentioned a little earlier if you opt to use your current phone number without porting it, you’ll only be able to access the lite version of the service. The lite version only includes the voicemail and discounted international calling features, but if this is all you’re looking for than it’s a great option and you won’t have to tell your friends and family you got a new number.

Despite its drawbacks, Google Voice is a great service with a number of amazing features that make communication easier and more convenient than ever. If you liked any of the features, or all of them why not try them out for free here? Because of its clever application of modern technology with an old system and its free and even money saving price point, Google Voice has found a place in my N3rd C0rn3r.