I hate to repeat myself, but today I will. I wrote an article about this same application approximately 10 years ago. The reason I am writing about it again is the number of questions I get about it, along with learning new features it has, from other users. First, for any of this to work for you, you must have a Google account. If you do not have one, it is easy to set up, and it is free. Go to account.google.com and click “Create an account.” If you have a Google account, or after you create one, we will have a look today at Google Voice.

Google Voice is a free application that will help you use your smartphone. If you go to voice.google.com you can proceed with setting up your voice account. It will first get you to choose a phone number. You can choose the city and state you would like to have the number from. Some are hard to find, so you may have to choose a number in a nearby location. However, I have found the one I wanted for the Harrisonburg area in 2010. I recently tested numbers for Richmond and a random number of states and cities in them. I found a number in all of them.

Google Voice allows you to have one phone number and you can set up which phones you want it to ring, from none to many. You can also use it from your smartphone or computer to make calls. So if someone calls your GV number, it can ring your cell, home and office phones all at the same time. This allows you to receive the call wherever you are located. Also, if you answer a call from that number, you can easily transfer that call to one of the other numbers.

Next, all voicemail messages are transcribed and sent to your email along with the recording if you would prefer to listen to it. So you do not have to call in to get your messages since they are in your email, typed out in a few seconds. This allows you to keep them as long as you want and even email them to someone else if you wish. The transcription works pretty well but is not perfect; however, it has been my experience that they are close enough to easily interpret what they mean.

When you receive a call on your smartphone, you can set it to show you who is calling, even a picture if you have them in your Gmail contacts with a photo. You can choose to either answer the incoming call or send it to voicemail. Another interesting thing is that if you send them to voicemail, you can listen as they leave their message. However, you can also interrupt them during their message to your voicemail and speak with them while the caller is still on their phone.

If you have a person listed in your Gmail Contacts and decide you no longer want to hear from them, you can block their number. Once they are blocked and they call you, they get the standard, “We’re sorry you have reached a number that is no longer in service.” Another interesting feature is that you can set different answers for groups or individual people you set up in your Google Contacts. You could have one message for your coworkers, another for your club members, another for family, etc.

Google Voice is excellent and I use it all the time. There are instructions and details on everything you can do with Google Voice on support.google.com/voice.

Contact Ron Doyle at GrayHaired.Tech.

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