What is Google Voice?
Google Voice is a service created in 2009 that lets you make and receive calls, texts, and use call forwarding free of charge. When it first launched, Google Voice was a must-have service—an easy way to abandon your landline and consolidate multiple phones onto one number. But as smartphones grew into essential companions, modern apps evolved, and Google Voice quickly fell behind. The tool remained stagnant for years until Google gave it a long-awaited overhaul in 2017.
Is Google Voice free?
The app itself is free and almost every feature included won’t cost you a thing. There are a few instances where you’ll need to add credit to your account. For example, if you want to make international calls.
The best Google Voice features
Google has expanded the feature set of Voice over the years as some of its best assets have been overshadowed by modern apps. Here are some of the Google Voice features that are still relevant today.
Free domestic (U.S., Canada) calls – You can call or text anyone in the U.S. and Canada free of charge. While still useful for avoiding carrier fees, this feature is not exclusive as several newer social apps now offer free VoIP calls, including Facebook and Skype.
Group messaging – Free SMS messaging was always enabled on Voice, but Google added support for group and photo MMS messaging as part of the 2017 redesign.
Cheap international calls – You’re probably aware Microsoft-owned Skype lets you conduct international voice and video calls. Google Voice has the same functionality. You’ll just need to add credit to your account to pay for the small international fee. They typically run between one and five cents per minute, depending on the country you’re trying to reach. That’s a lot cheaper than what mobile carriers will bill you.
Voicemail transcriptions – Traditional voicemail is another standard, free feature included in Google Voice, but it’s often overshadowed by what some claim to be the app’s standout feature: voicemail transcription. Using complex algorithms, voicemail transcription turns your voicemails into text and sends them to your inbox or email.
Personalized Greetings – This feature lets you set different voicemail greetings for specific individuals or groups. It’s especially useful for small businesses.
Call forwarding – Voice gives you a free phone number to use for multiple devices. This way, you can stop having to remember your cell, landline, and work number. Once call forwarding it set up, calls made to any of your numbers will be rerouted to your Google Voice number. You can link up to six numbers. You also have the option to change where you get calls. For example, you might dedicate one or two devices to ring for work calls and keep another phone for personal calls only.
Record calls – A godsend for journalists, users can record a call by simply pressing the number four on the dial pad. There are now apps that help you record calls, but they’re not as well integrated.
Why should you get a Google Voice number when you already have a home phone number, a cellphone number, a business number etc.?
- Mainly because this way your “real” phone numbers are not published verbatim on the Internet, and therefore cannot be skimmed off by bots or marketers.
- You can give out your Google Voice number as your “business phone”.
- If the Google Voice number is somehow compromised, for example if some troll decides to start stalking you, you won’t have to get a completely new cellphone number, give it to friends and family or business associates, and then have to worry about who might have fallen through the cracks and is trying to call you on your old number.
Please refer to Google’s instructions on how to set up a Voice number.