Though it seems like we should be able to function with just one phone number, it isn’t that simple in reality.
Many people are juggling multiple phones. Almost everyone has a cell phone number used for various things, but primarily for personal reasons. Some people may have a second cell phone number dedicated solely to work-related communication.
Others may have a landline in their office or at home whose purpose is for business calls. And then there are a rare few that may also have a landline phone number at home for personal calls. Balancing and bouncing between all these different numbers and phones can get complicated.
Wouldn’t it be nice to simplify things? Rather than having all these different numbers and devices, wouldn’t it make life so much simpler to have just one number to give to people?
With Google Voice, you can.
Google Voice works off of VoIP technology, which is short for “voice over IP.” This essentially means that Google Voice converts your phone into a digital signal.
Why is this important to you? Because with Google Voice, you get one phone number that all calls can be forwarded to from all your different phone numbers. This makes managing all of your communication so much easier, as it can all be done from one phone.
Google Voice is a favorite amongst small business owners and large companies as well. It simplifies phone calls for everyone and brings everything into one place.
Though Google Voice did not make our list of best business VoIP phone services, it is still a strong service that may work well for your personal or company use, depending on your specific needs. Our top choice for a VoIP service is Nextiva.
Why You Should Use Google Voice
You may feel like the last thing you want to do is get another phone number to add to your list. However, a Google Voice phone number may be the last number you ever need. This telephone service is perfect for merging multiple communication channels into one place. And that is just one of its many additional features. Here is why you should stop carrying multiple phones and use this VoIP instead.
1. You Can Take and Make Calls from Gmail
Anyone who has a Gmail account can already make calls to the U.S. and Canada for free. However, the number you’re calling from will be a random number that the person on the other end won’t recognize and may not pick up. With Google Voice, any call you make from Gmail will show up as your Google Voice number.
The integration with Gmail also means that you can take calls in Gmail and Google Hangouts and answer them from your computer.
2. You Get Free Unlimited Texts
Free texting is included in the Google Voice service. If you prefer texting from your phone, you can do so through the Google Voice app and don’t need a third-party, unofficial app to do so. You can also text either via the Google Voice website or the Google Voice Chrome extension.
One of the bonuses of the text feature on Google Voice is that if you need to reset your phone or get a new one, you won’t lose your text messages. You can search the archive of your texts online to track down any information you may need.
3. You Can Forward All Your Calls To One Number
Your Google Voice number allows you to forward your calls to other numbers. This comes in handy when it comes time to get a new phone or switch cell phone carriers. All you have to do is get a new cell phone number and forward your Google Voice number to it, or forward it to your old existing phone number.
Google also has the option for you to transfer your existing phone number to Google Voice, so you don’t need to share your Google Voice number with everyone. Though this feature comes at an added cost, it may be worth it for you.
4. Your Voicemails Are Transcribed
Not only does Google Voice come with voicemail, but it takes things one step further and uses its advanced speech recognition technology to transcribe your voicemail into a text. You have the option to either read the text or listen to the voicemail. This is a great feature for those who need to determine whether a voicemail is important enough to leave a meeting or for people who hate listening to voicemails.
5. You Can Listen To Voicemails As They’re Being Left
One neat feature about this telephone service is that you can listen to voicemails as someone is leaving them. Not only that, but you can also decide mid-voicemail to answer the phone by simply pressing the star key.
6. You Can Set Up Call Forwarding Rules
This service lets you forward all your numbers and calls to one single Google Voice number. However, that’s not all. You can set up specific rules for the calls to determine what calls go where and when.
For example, say you are playing golf for the day and don’t want to be bothered. You can set up rules to have any calls to your cell phone forwarded to your office for the hours you’ll be golfing.
Another option is to set the order of importance with phones if you need to make sure you get a call. This means that someone trying to reach you could call your Google Voice number, and you have it set up to go to your home phone first, then your work phone if you don’t answer at home, and then your cell phone if you don’t answer the other two. Or you can have all the numbers ring simultaneously, which is a great feature for small business owners or independent contractors.
7. You Can Record Calls
Google Voice allows you to record calls easily and enables you to start and stop recording with the touch of a button. You can easily access the recordings online at any time. This is an excellent feature for important meetings and interviews that occur over the phone. They can be saved and referenced whenever necessary.
8. You Can Easily Switch Phones
A unique feature of this service is that you can switch phones mid-call. You simply press the star key, and the other phones you’ve connected to your Google Voice will ring, and you can pick any of them up. You can literally pick up where you left off with a good chance that the person on the other end of the phone will never know anything changed.
How Google Voice Works
All of the above features can work thanks to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This technology allows you to use a broadband internet connection to make calls instead of a phone line.
What happens when you make a call with your Google Voice number is that it converts your voice into a digital signal that travels over the internet. With a VoIP service like Google Voice, you can make calls directly from a computer.
Only a connection to the internet is needed to make any phone calls via Google Voice.
What You Need for Google Voice
All you need to set up Google Voice is a valid Google account and a U.S. or Canada phone number (either mobile or landline). That phone number is what Google uses to verify your identity and as the forwarding number.
When making calls from the United States and used by one person, nearly all Google Voice to U.S. and Canada numbers are free.
However, if you want more features and more access, you will want to look at the different pricing options. Here are the features and costs of the different plans.
Free. This price plan costs nothing and allows one user in one domestic location (U.S. or Canada).
Starter. This price plan costs $10 per user per month and allows you up to 10 users in 10 different domestic locations under one account.
- Free calling to the U.S. from any country
- Free calling to Canada from any country
- Unlimited SMS in the United States
- Google Fi compatibility
- Voicemail transcription
- Google Calendar integration
- Google Meet integration
- Mobile app for both Android and iOS
- Web app
- 24/7 support
- Service Level Agreement
- Usage and activity reporting
- Call forwarding
The Starter plan is best for small businesses and entrepreneurs with 10 employees or fewer.
Standard. This price plan costs $20 per user per month and allows an unlimited number of users in unlimited domestic locations under one account.
You get all of the things included in the Starter plan, as well as:
- Multi-level auto attendant
- Ring groups
- Desk phone support
- eDiscovery for calls, voicemail, and SMS records
The Standard plan is best for domestic businesses of any size.
Premier. This price plan costs $30 per user per month. It allows you to have an unlimited number of users in unlimited domestic locations and unlimited international locations under one account. You get all of the things included in the Standard plan and advanced reporting and data regions.
The Premier plan is best for larger international businesses.
How to Get Started With Google Voice
Getting Google Voice set up is a fairly quick and easy process.
Step 1: Sign in to Google
Sign in to your Google Account.
Step 2: Choose Google Voice Phone Number
Go to voice.google.com. From here, you will choose a phone number in your area that you want to establish as your Google Voice Number.
Search by your city name or area code to see what numbers are available. If there are no available numbers in your area, try somewhere nearby.
Step 3: Verify Existing Phone Number
Once you have found a number you want, click Select. Next, you will be prompted to verify your existing number. Do this by clicking Verify and typing in the number you want Google to forward your calls to (your existing cell phone number). Click Send Code.
Once Google has called or texted you with the code, enter it online and click Verify.
Step 4: Finish Set Up On Computer
To confirm that the number you verified is indeed the number you want your calls forwarded to, click Claim.
You will have the option to change this number later if you need to.
Click Finish twice, and you’re ready to use Google Voice on your computer.
Step 5: Download the Google Voice App
Next, you want to get Google Voice working on your phone. Navigate to the app store and download the Google Voice app from either the Apple app store (iPhone) or the Google Play Store (Android).
How to Make Your First Google Voice Call
Making your first call with Google Voice is a straightforward process that feels almost exactly like calling someone on a normal phone. It can be done either from your computer or your smartphone.
Either go to voice.google.com on your computer or open up the Voice app on your phone.
Navigate to the “Calls” tab. If the person you want to call is in your recent calls list, hover over their name/number and hit the phone icon to call them. You can also call someone from your contacts list on the right side. Or you can manually dial using the keypad.
For your Google Voice number to remain active, you must make at least one call or text per month. If you fail to do that, you will lose your Google Voice number after 30 days of inactivity. In that case, you will need to sign up for a new number the next time you sign in.