Google Voice got its start as a phone service called GrandCentral, which the search giant bought in 2007
- Powerful suite of communications tools, free, you won't need to install software to get started
- Uses a US number, invite only, configuration options can be confusing at times
Google Voice has so many features that we've barely scratched the surface of what it can do. Is it worth trying? Absolutely. Since it's free, you've got nothing to lose by giving it a whirl.
Best Deals (Selling at 2 stores)
Chances are you've heard or read about Google's phone management system Google Voice, but you're not really sure what it does. Google Voice is a free web-based application that lets you control all your various phone numbers — work, home, mobile, you name it — from a single, central phone number.
There's a good reason for the aura of mystery. Google Voice got its start as a phone service called GrandCentral, which the search giant bought in 2007. It's been in beta ever since — but unlike other Google betas that are open to the general public, this one was limited to former GrandCentral users and a select group of industry elite.
But now Google is opening up the service to a limited number of new users, many of whom we're sure will be as impressed as we are with Google Voice's power and elegance. Even better, Google Voice is free — at least for now. It's likely that Google will need to monetise the service at some point, either via subscription fees, advertising, or some sort of newfangled revenue scheme. But for the lucky few using the service today, there's no charge.
Google Voice: the basics
Google Voice provides a single phone number, such as 415-555-1212, for all your mobile, home, and work numbers, and lets you manage your voice services online. Unlike a landline service, a Google Voice number isn't tied to a geographical location.
Unlike a mobile phone service, it's not linked to a specific handset. And unlike a VoIP line, it's not matched with an IP address.
Rather, it's tied to you. So if you move, change jobs, or switch wireless carriers, your Google Voice number stays with you. One drawback: you can't port your current number to Google Voice, although that option may be added in the near future, the company says.
This isn't a Skype-type service either. You don't use your computer to make phone calls, and there's no additional software or hardware to install or buy. (You can, however, use the Click2Call feature from the Google Voice website to place calls.)
Google Voice: Is it perfect?
No, it's got a few quirks, and the myriad of configuration options can be confusing at times. But Google's on to something big here. A service that helps manage the multiple phone lines in our lives should have universal appeal.
Google Voice provides a powerful suite of communications tools, including the ability to:
- Forward calls from your Google Voice number to one or more phones, or directly to voicemail. Based on who's calling, you can select which of your phones will ring.
- Receive text (SMS) alerts when you get a call.
- Transcribe voicemails, which Google Voice will send as email and/or text messages to your cell phone.
- Listen to voicemail messages as they're being recorded-a great throwback to the home answering machine.
- Screen callers by asking for and recording their names.
- Block annoying callers by playing a number-not-in-service recording when they call.
- Vary personalised greetings by caller.
- Record phone conversations and listen to them in your Google Voice inbox.
- Switch phones during a call.
- Use the free GOOG 411 service to say the name and location of a business, and have your call connected for free.
- Phone local numbers for free.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Is the world ready for a 4K phone?
- 2 D-Link Taipan AC3200 Ultra tri-band modem-router review
- 3 BlackBerry Priv review: When old habits die hard
- 4 Dell XPS 13 (2016) review: Making the very best Ultrabook
- 5 Microsoft Surface Book review: The verdict on Microsoft's first notebook
Best Deals on PC World
Latest News Articles
- Mozilla Firefox update fixes several vulnerabilities
- Windows Phone can now work on smartphones with Intel x86 chips
- iOS 9.2.1 and OS X 10.11.3 are now available
- New field test lets you install Android apps directly from Google search
- Survey says: Almost a third of US consumers on Windows 10
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- FTDigital Marketing Specialist | Media BuyerNSW
- FTJava or Ruby Web DeveloperVIC
- CCFront End Developer - MelbourneVIC
- CCEXCEL Guru / Data AdministratorNSW
- FTImplementation Consultant, Enterprise SoftwareNSW
- FTTechnical Consultant - Audio VisualSA
- CCSenior Agile Business Analyst - Online/Mobile experienceNSW
- FTSenior Front End Developer Required Working World Leading Digital TeamVIC
- CCOracle Business Analyst / TrainerSA
- CCJava Developer - IOSNSW
- CCHybris Developer - Global ConsultancyNSW
- CCSolution Design EngineerACT
- FTTechnical Consultant - ApplicationsSA
- CCJava DeveloperVIC
- CCContract Analyst Programmer 160120/AP/vvtAsia
- FTSystems Administrator/Engineer | $60-90K package | ChatswoodNSW
- CCTechnical Business Analyst (Telecommunications) / Melb CBDVIC
- CCIT Service Improvement SpecialistNSW
- FTPrograme ManagerNSW
- FTSOE EngineerQLD
- FTFunctional Business Analyst - Commodities and FX DomainNSW
- FTSenior Oracle DBANSW
- CCTechnical Tester - AutomationVIC
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (JAVA/J2EE/SQL) 160205/AP/541Asia