You used to need an invitation to sign up for Google Voice, Google’s attempt to conquer the world of phones, because the service was still in the testing phases. Last month, however, Google released Voice to the public, so now anyone can sign up. You’ll receive an additional phone number through Google, but you can forward all calls from that number to your cell or your home phone. So, you could simply give people your new Google number as your main line, and let the advanced online system manage the rest.
Here’s what we like about Google Voice:
- Free, unlimited texts
- Catalogues calls and texts so you can search them (like on Gmail)
- You can send texts through your computer or your phone
- Transcribes your voicemails for you
- You can manage multiple phones through one phone number
- You decide when you do and don’t want phone to ring (no calls on the weekend, etc.)
- You differentiate coworkers from family and friends—make rules for which groups ring which phones.
Here’s what we don’t like about Google Voice:
- Voicemail transcription is not entirely accurate
- Google Voice app for smart phones can be glitchy
- We’d like more options for rules around caller groups (if Mary calls past 5 pm, have it ring at home, but if Steve calls at that time send it straight to voicemail).
Although Google Voice is an imperfect system, here are the top ways we use it to save over $100:
1. Save On Text Messages
Instead of paying for unlimited text messages every month—or, worse, paying fees when we go over our text limit—we use Google Voice for most of our big text conversations. There are two ways to go about it: Either use Google Voice as your main phone number and do all your texting that way, or pay for the smallest text plan through your phone carrier (in case you get a text from random people who don’t know better) and tell your friends to text your Google Voice number instead.
2. Stop Using Up Minutes When You Place Calls
Call people from Google Voice: When you’re at your computer, hit the call button. First, your own phone will ring, and then you’ll be connected with the person you’re calling. Alternatively, you can use the Google Voice app for smartphones, which lets you call someone directly using the alternate Voice phone number. Since these calls are made over the internet, they generally don’t count toward your allotment of normal minutes.
3. Try A Special Trick To Save Minutes When Others Call You
This trick works only if you’re on a cell phone plan that allows you to choose a few frequently-used contact numbers for unlimited talk. If this applies to you, edit your Google Voice account settings—when you receive a call, you can choose to show the caller’s phone number or your own Google Voice phone number on the cell phone display. Choose to display your own Google Voice number. That’s where your phone will think the call is coming from. Then, add your Google Voice number to your special list of phone numbers. After that, you should be able to enjoy unlimited talk with anyone who calls you on Google Voice.
However you use Google Voice, it’s a useful tool for keeping track of your phone calls, voice messages, and texts. Enjoy!