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.
Google Voice: Cool Call Recording
If you need to record calls for personal or business use, Google Voice is a great alternative to physical recorders that attach to a phone line. (And it's cheaper too.) To begin recording a call, simply press 4 on your phone. Once the call is complete, you can listen to the recording in Google Voice, which also saves a copy of the audio file.
This feature raises privacy concerns, of course. Depending on where you live, it may be illegal to record a call without the other party's knowledge. As a precaution, Google Voice plays a "Call recording on" message when the recording begins. When the recording stops, you hear "Call recording off".
We really like how Google implemented call recording. It's very easy to use, and the ability to archive recorded calls as you would voicemail messages is very convenient. There are some limitations, however. For instance, you can only record calls you receive on your Google Voice number. So if you get a work call that comes in via your regular business line, you can't record it. Also, you can't record calls that you initiate using Click2Call or the Return Call features on the Google Voice site.
Google makes headlines if it sneezes, so it isn't surprising that the company's latest announcement, a revision of a web app called GrandCentral now renamed Google Voice, has caught the attention of the webverse.
What is it? Google Voice, which is currently available only to former GrandCentral customers, 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. And it adds most of the features of a PBX - call forwarding, voice mail, call recording - for free.
How does Google Voice work? The first thing you'll need to do is set up your own phone number. You can use any area code; we made mine a local number in an area code where we have a lot of friends and family.
That's pretty much it for the basic setup. With that number, you can access the kind of advanced features that would normally require either paying fees to your local phone company or setting up your own office PBX. For example, you can forward calls to up to six other phones, make free text messages and local phone calls, take voicemail messages and set up four-person conference calls.
You can also make calls using the Google/Gmail phone directory. And you can record incoming calls with a press of a button. This last feature is killer - Google, if you can just let us do that with outgoing calls too, we'll be friends for life.
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