On March 11, 2009 the telephone (as we know it) took a permanent detour. The phone, as it has been conventionally pictured, has been changed for good. By who? The innovator of almost everything cool, funky and revolutionary: Google.
I recently received an invitation to try Google Voice and jumped aboard right away. I have been using this robust system for about a month and am very pleased with the results. I have had many corporate office systems and Google Voice, with its long list of features, surprisingly outperforms them.
In particular, I have found the following features to be very helpful:
1) Phone Number of Your Choice – Yes, you heard that right. You can choose a phone number of your choice and can actually search for phone numbers by keywords. I remember trying to setup a custom number in the past, which was a big headache. Fortunately, not with Google Voice. Plus, you can select a phone number under almost any area code, so it doesn’t have to match your location, which is ideal for businesses or individuals with multiple locations.
2) Free Calls – Who in their right mind would shun free calls? I’ve heard the saying “there’s nothing free in life” though Google has revitalized that notion. Google, I’ll say again, I love you.
3) Answer Call From Multiple Phones – When calls come in, I can answer from multiple phones, which is a big bonus. For example, I can have a client call my Google Voice number and it will ring my office line and cell phone at the same time. If I’m out and about, I can simply pickup my cell phone.
4) Voicemail Transcripts – Receiving emails with transcribed voicemail messages is huge for me. If I’m in a conference or cannot answer my phone, or pick it up for some reason, receiving an email with a transcribed voicemail helps a ton.
5) Recording of Calls – Sometimes I speak to clients over Google Voice and find the call recording feature to be quite helpful. If we’re reviewing a project or collaborating on ideas I can simply record the conversation and store it in their company file. I can then reference the call at a later date to ensure the project is on track.
What does this mean for the future? For one, with Google Voice in beta and launching soon, and VOIP systems in general becoming increasingly popular, phone manufacturers will slowly see a decline in hardware sales. On the flip side, bluetooth headset manufacturers will see a slow incline in profits over the next few years then a sharp spike when VOIP really kicks off.
I will continue toying with Google Voice and update all of you readers on my thoughts. Be sure to stay tuned!