Listen to the (Google) Voice In Your Head

google_voice

It’s easy to get lost in all the buzz over Google’s latest babies – Voice and Wave.  Both are generating a lot of attention among bloggers and tech-enthusiasts, even though each service is still only available by invitation.

I have been invited to use both, and for the past week or two I have been trying them out.  Here are my thoughts about Google Voice:  I love it.

That was easy.  Over the next few paragraphs, I’m going to try and convince you why you should, too.  Before that, however, it’s probably good to do a quick overview.  If you aren’t familiar with Voice, it’s essentially a service to manage your current phone system.  No matter how many phone numbers you have (work, home, mobile, etc), Google Voice can help you manage them efficiently.

Can I have yo’ numba?

When you first sign up for Voice, you’ll have to pick your phone number.  That’s right – Google Voice gives you a new number.  Don’t worry, your old number will still work as Voice simply forwards calls to your phone.  For me, picking a number was the fun part.  Not only do you get to choose from a list of available numbers, but you can search for number or letter combinations for convenience.

As far as setting up, that’s about it.  You’ll customize a few settings before getting started and then you land on your Voice page.  Ah, the beauty.  All of your Voicemails, Contacts, and SMS messages stored in one location, in an interface similar to Gmail.

You’ll want to take a look at neat features like setting up multiple voicemail greetings, receiving transcripts of voicemails by text-message and groups, which let you set up groups of people (i.e., “friends”, “coworkers”, etc) and manage which phone they are forwarded to, which greeting they hear, etc.  If you don’t already, you will also want to start storing contacts online, too.  Google Voice does this for you as well.

SMS Online

By far my favorite feature, however, is the ability to send and receive text messages online.  First, it’s much, much easier to type on a computer keyboard than a BlackBerry keyboard.  Second, all of my messages are saved online – forget trying to free space on your phone!  If the really attractive girl texts me “yOu’RE soo kUtE :)!”, I can save it forever!*

But Rybo, won’t you get the message twice – once through Google Voice and once through your phone?  Yes – unless you’re smart about it.  If I’m at work, or have a lot of studying to do, I turn off SMS forwarding to my phone.  That means all my text-messages come directly into my online Voice page and not to my phone.  This way I can chat all day without having to go in and re-read 50 messages later.  This gets addicting, trust me.

Call SEXE

Thanks to Google Voice, I have no problem posting my phone number on my blog.  If you spam me, I can simply add you to my block list.  If you’re a co-worker, I can forward your calls to my work phone.  If you’re my mom, I can put a permanent Do Not Disturb sign.  I had fun picking out this number.  It’s half immature male, half wanting to invent some new pickup lines.  You can call me at 803-386-SEXE.

* Disclaimer – The really attractive girl has never actually texted me anything like this.  I use it for example only.  Generally speaking, it’s more along the lines of “WHERE’D YOU GET THIS NUMBER?” or “my boyfriends a football player – STOP STARING”.

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