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.
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Another killer feature: you can set up Google Voice so that it automatically filters your calls and routes them to different phones. When your daughter calls, every phone you've got rings. If someone you don't know gives you a buzz, they automatically get sent to voicemail. If someone from work calls, your work and business mobile phones ring, but the home phone stays silent.
But here's our favourite: Google Voice can transcribe voicemail and sends you the transcript via email. We'd say that it delivered with about 90 percent accuracy - we've paid money for worse. With this, we'll never need to check voicemail again; we can either just read it from our email box or listen to it over the web. We love this feature.
What's cool about it? Google Voice gives you the type of control over your communications that can make your life incredibly easier, especially if you're running your own business (which a lot of us are these days).
What needs to be fixed? There are some features that could still use a bit of tweaking. For example, while we're able to sort our phone connections into family, friends and workgroups, the program is still a little confusing when it comes to assigning people to each group. And the voicemail transcription isn't perfect. But hey, let's get real - we just want something that will let us know who called us, when and what number they left for us to call them back at.
There's been a lot of privacy panic over Google Voice, but we don't see it. You can pull out more information from any active Facebook user's account than you can from Google Voice. What we see is a killer, do-it-all phone app.
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