In our first lesson for this course, we told you a bit about what Google Voice is and what it does. Next, we covered how much it can cost. Now, let's put it all together and see how Google Voice stacks up in terms of advantages and disadvantages.
- Lots of functionality, for free! – Google Voice is largely free to use, and lets you do things like pick a private American phone number to use and transcribe voicemails to text for free, too. Many of its competitors charge money for these features, or to even use them at all!
- All of your phone functions, all in one spot in the cloud – Keep your voicemails and text messages secure in one place that you can access from almost anywhere. You can be on your desktop or laptop computer at home, or you can be on your mobile phone or a public computer while you're out and about. It doesn't matter.
- One number to manage them all – Your single Google Voice number can help you better manage your other phones. For example, you can have specific phones ring when someone calls your Google Voice number; or turn on "Do Not Disturb" mode and catch up on any calls, text messages, or voicemails later when you're not busy.
- Non-Americans need not apply – Currently, most Google Voice features can only be used if you have a Google Voice number. But you can only get a Google Voice number if you have a registered United States telephone number to verify it with.
- You're still paying for calls, one way or another – While Google Voice itself is free, you'll still usually be using minutes and data from your existing phone plans to send and receive calls and text messages. Many alternatives give you extra minutes or data, or complete your calls over the Internet instead.
- Weak multi-participant capabilities – Google Voice can do conference calls, but it's not that great at it. Other services like it have better audio/video conferencing and group texting tools.
- Lack of emergency call functions – Like many similar services, Google Voice can't be used for emergency calls. So don't try calling 9-1-1 with it, or it will tell you that the number isn't in service.
The bottom line: 6.5/10
Google Voice fits a bit of a specific niche, so how much you'll like it will depend on how much you need to use it. If you frequently use your phone(s) to keep in touch with people on a regular basis, then Google Voice can be a big help. It gives you a central phone system and number where you can direct calls and text to any of your phones, as well as store all of your texts and voicemails in one secure spot. And you can manage it all from almost anywhere you can get an Internet connection.
There are certain features Google Voice doesn't have, though, such as phone extensions, Internet fax, and group texting and conferencing tools. Many of its competitors offer these, as well as separate phone/text/data plans so that you don't have to use up your existing personal one when you're running a business. And if you don't need all of the great phone co-ordination functions that Google Voice provides, there are many simpler apps and programs out there – such as Skype, Viber, and ooVoo – that let you exchange calls, text messages, voicemails, and more over the Internet for free (or for prices comparable to those of Google Voice).
There you have it: our review of Google Voice! If you think it's something that you might like to try, then follow along with the rest of our Google Voice course as we show you how to use it to manage your phone operations in the digital cloud! Or, if you think Google Voice isn't quite right for you and would like to try another service like it, be sure to give our list of Google Voice alternatives a read!