Are you a bit confused about what Google Voice is? Maybe it's because you've heard people talk about this service called Grand Central, a service that lets you route all calls to "you" (all of your phone numbers) and manage and sort them, but then you've also heard that Google has released a VoIP solution that is free and sure to kill Skype and Vonage. So which one is it?
Well, it's both.
One of the really unique things that Google Voice does (as explained in the video below) is it offers a central hub where you can have all calls route to. And then, you can add a lot of logic to where the calls go from there. So for instance, if anyone calls you during working hours, it rings on your work phone; during the evening, your home phone; at night, your cell phone (for emergencies). Or you could have certain people that you don't want to talk to automatically route to voicemail, have just family go to your cell, etc. It's whatever works for you.
But the other side of Google Voice is the more traditional VoIP system, which lets you call someone else and talk to them verbally through a computer microphone. This is the part of Google Voice that people are calling a Skype killer. One of the unique advantages to Google Voice, though, is that you can call landline phones and cell phones through your computer using VoIP. (On a related note, is Google Voice a Skype killer? See what users are saying on Skype's forum.)
So should you try out Google Voice? Here's a few reasons to:
- Better organization. If you have a home phone, work phone, and cell phone, you can stop managing three different address books and voicemail inboxes, and just have one.
- Convert voicemail messages to text. Sick of going through the one-by-one, systematic voicemail system? Google Voice also gives you poorly-translated text messages for voicemails you get.
- Positive initial reviews cite good call quality and ease of use.
- Cheap international rates. Check out Google Voice's competitive international rates.
- There's an app for it. Google has released a free Android app, letting you harness the lower international rates by routing international calls through Google Voice on your cell phone. (Read more about the latest Android phones here.)
- It's free. With the exception of international calls to physical phones, all VoIP calls through Google Voice are free.
While the service is primarily targeted at consumers, I can see some potential conveniences for business users as well. Though, as with any cloud solution, there is a degree of risk should the service go down temporarily, as you would be temporarily unreachable.
More on Google:
- Google Launches Free Phone Service
- Top 5 Videos on Google, Verizon, and Network Neutrality
- Let's Not Celebrate Google's Decision to Abandon China
- 2 Scenarios: Microsoft and Google in the Smartphone War
- Apple Launches Attack on Google's Android