Google’s one-stop-shop website has gone public with another offering. After it worked the kinks out of Gmail, the search engine giant enabled anyone to have Google’s version of e-mail. Now, it has done the same with Google Voice, according to CNET. On June 22 Google announced that Google Voice became available to anyone who wanted to use it.
Many people have touted its successes and pointed out potential flaws. Overall, the reception has been mostly positive, even though Google will add more features later. An impatient bunch of consumers will want more and more sooner rather than later, so Google will have to act quickly on what users want.
Here’s how the platform works. Google lets you input your phone number on their service, and, suddenly, anyone who calls that single number can be routed to your home phone, cell phone, or even an e-mail where you can listen to incoming messages. It’s the Wal-Mart of phone services, as you can get just about any service you want.
Text messages and long distance cost money, but you can load up your account through credit or debit cards. You can view your messages from just about anywhere, even on your mobile device, that lets you check your Google account.
The best overall feature for me when I signed up earlier this week is the visual voice mail. Remember the original Star Trek series in the late 1960s? Now you can say “on screen” when you have an incoming message, and you can communicate visually in real-time, just like Gene Roddenberry predicted 45 years ago.
The visual voicemail makes it worth the price of admission, but there are some things I’d like to see on future versions, now that the general public has access to Google Voice. Multiple calls and conference calls would be nice. Surely Google can hook up with Skype, or some other video service, to make that happen eventually.
It doesn’t quite work on my iPhone as well as I’d like. For Google Voice to work fully on a mobile, I’d have to get one with Droid for now. Part of that stems from the Apple/Google debacle a year ago, when this project was first in development.
Having one phone number for everything may be confusing at first. Keeping track of all of those numbers just got easier, but I had a hard time trying to remember which number I had set up for Google Voice. The beauty of the system is that you can get an entirely new number you’ve never had before, and then link that to all of your other numbers. Doing it this way would obviate the need to change any of your existing numbers, or remember which one you used. You can even choose a phrase or combination of words and numbers instead of a phone number, which is akin to making your phone number like a link from Twitter.
I think I will go with choosing a phrase, since that will be easier to remember. Instead of having a phone number now, you can choose “Wing Man” or “Hvy Hitter” as a phone number, which many people will like.
CNET provided much of the information for this article, as did the Google website.