Google Voice #3: Smartphone and Computer Integration
Three Things Small Businesses
Should Know About Google Voice
2. Call Routing
3. Smartphone-Computer Integration
For a while, I wasn’t sure what to select for the third and final Thing You Should Know About Google Voice. Perhaps the free text-messaging? The ability to record calls? There are plenty of options, but I’ve decided that the honors go to a feature I’ve already mentioned throughout the last couple posts. And that’s the different ways in which Google Voice lets you use it.
Google Voice is a tool that you can use virtually anywhere there’s a microchip. If they even use those anymore. The phone, the computer, and the internet are virtually one.
Smart phone users are particularly blessed. Especially now that Apple has reversed its unilaterally unpopular decision to ban Google Voice from the iPhone. This means that users of iPhones, Android phones, and Blackberries can download a free Google Voice app (or one of the paid alternatives) and use the free service. The app allows you to make outbound calls from your Google Voice number, send and receive free text messages, and check your visual voicemail, right in your phone’s interface. But you’re not limited to your phone, of course. Logging on to Google Voice from a computer gives you even more unfettered access. Change your settings, specify how calls are routed, even make phone calls, all from an internet browser.
Receive calls while checking your email. Have your browser notify you when you get a text message, then read it and respond, all without ever pulling out your phone. Surfing the web and see a phone number? No need to write it down. Google Voice turns phone numbers into links. Just click the number, and then Google will call you (on your cell, landline, on your computer, whatever you want) and connect you with that number.
If you’re using Gmail, life is even easier. Not just because of Google Voice’s newly integrated VOiP services that have been added to the chat box on the left hand side, but because all of your Google contacts stay together in one place. Losing your phone has never been so convenient. Your contacts are always available to you, online, and you can always call or text them, whether your phone is handy or not.
For me, and for many people, what matters most is the flexibility that Google Voice provides–all the features you’d expect from a wireless carrier (with a few exceptions, like picture-text messages) with plenty of perks you would normally pay extra for (visual voice mail, conference calling, call recording) all for the price of a breath of fresh air, all available anywhere there’s internet access. And it all syncs effortlessly. Messages you’ve sent and received show up on all devices, and messages don’t stay marked as Unread on one device just because you checked them on another.
And let’s face it, even if Google Voice isn’t right for you, it’s a step in a beautiful new direction. Services like Google Docs, Google Navigation, and Google Voice are complex, inventive tools available to anyone who cares to use them, free of cost. By offering such services, Google is inspiring competitors to innovate in ways they may not have done without being challenged. And now, Google Voice is doing the same thing in the world of telephony, turning an age-old industry on its head. It’s scary for the dinosaurs, I’m sure. But for those of us who use innovations to streamline and transform our workflow, it’s thrilling.
That being said, Google Voice isn’t perfect, and it may not be right for your business yet. Here are a few alternative services you might want to consider for managing your business’s telephonic needs.