What is Google Voice and is it a Good Choice For You?
Google offers a free Web-based Voice over IP (VoIP) service in the United States (U.S.) called Google Voice. The service has been available since March 11, 2009 and allows inbound and outbound phone calls and texting to U.S. and Canada phone numbers. You can also make international calls at lower rates. It works on desktop computers as well as mobile devices, such as laptops and smartphones. You can configure several options to customize Google Voice, such as call forwarding. To get your free U.S. phone number, you will need Google Voice. The phone number will be your own personal number that’s linked to your Google account. You can make outbound calls and receive incoming calls from within Gmail, which is very convenient. The Google Voice number is tied to your Google account so you can login to your Gmail account either on your desktop or your smartphone and use Google Voice.
NOTE: Google Voice number is only available in the U.S. and can be used to call and text U.S. and Canada at no charge.
Pros and Cons of Using Google Voice
In the past eight years, people have been using Google Voice for many reasons. One thing is for sure, Google Voice is not for everyone. Read this article and then decide if you want to use Google Voice. Obtaining a U.S. phone number and using Google Voice has several advantages, but it also has some disadvantages. Let’s look at some pros and cons, which will help you determine if Google Voice is appropriate for you.
Advantages of Using Google Voice
- You can get one personal U.S. phone number from Google and keep it as long as you want. The phone is tied to your account, not to your Internet Service Provider (ISP), so even if you move you can keep your phone number.
- Configure your Google Voice number to ring on any or all your phone numbers (home phone, work phone, mobile phone, video phone, etc.) so regardless of where you are, you can answer the call.
- You can screen your call and decide if you want to answer the call.
- If you don’t want to give out your home number or smartphone number to certain people, you can give out your Google Voice number instead and configure Google Voice to forward calls to your home phone or smartphone. When you have to make calls or return calls, use Google Voice number to make calls to these people, rather than using your smartphone.
- Your Google Voice service includes a voicemail service so people can leave you a voicemail. You can configure Google Voice to automatically save your voicemail and forward you the voicemail message as a text message to your smartphone and to your Gmail account as an email message.
- You may not have text message service to Canada from your smartphone, but you can use Google Voice to text your Canadian friends and family at no charge.
- Start and stop recording your phone calls using the 4 key. When you start the recording, both you and the person on the other end will hear “This call is being recorded.”
- You can block individual numbers and configure routing options that can be very helpful.
Disadvantages of Using Google Voice
- You can’t use Google Voice to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Therefore, you shouldn’t use Google Voice as your primary phone.
- By using Google Voice, you will be risking your privacy. Yes, Facebook is notorious for its privacy record, but it’s pretty hard to compete with Google in this regard. In the past, Privacy International has rated Google at the bottom of its privacy rankings. For more information, read Privacy International Ranks Google as “hostile to privacy.”
- There is practically no support for Google Voice. Your only hope is Google Voice Help Center, which has outdated information or Google Voice Help Forum, where other users may try to answer your questions. Google has paid very little attention to Google Voice since 2009, until this year when it made a few enhancements to the service.
- Porting your landline or VoIP phone number can be pretty messy and there is a $20 one-time fee for porting your phone number.
- There are many technical issues you will have to deal with, without any support from Google.
- The service can be very unreliable and the quality of service can vary from day to day. You may experience a lot of dropped calls and disconnects at times, but there won’t be any tech support from Google. After all, you are using a free service and you know what they say about the free service…..”you get what you pay for.”
- There is a rumor that Google may decide to change its policy of ad-free Google Voice at any time. After all, Google should be able to make money from any service that it offers. Wouldn’t it make sense to get people hooked on a service at no charge and then start to make money with advertisements at a later time? By that time Google should have plenty of data about its users to post targeted ads.
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