Google Voice has a lot of features that help you manage multiple phone numbers more like your email accounts. The main problem is that you need a new phone number to use most of the advanced features and this is not convenient.
Now you can port an existing mobile phone number to Google Voice for a small fee: $20. The process is rather complicated and may incur additional charges, but it’s important to keep in mind that Google is not a wireless carrier (at least not yet) and you’ll still have to get a non-Google phone number.
Number porting is a feature in which your existing mobile number will become your Google Voice number and you can take advantage of the full set of the Google Voice features, like one number to ring all of your phones, online voicemail, and more. Number Porting also costs a one-time fee of $20, payable via Google Checkout. Note that you will still need carrier service (Sprint, T-Mobile, Cricket, etc.) to receive calls on your mobile phone.
At the moment, you can make free calls in the US and Canada if you use Gmail Chat, but it’s likely that this feature will also be available in Google Voice’s mobile apps for Android and iPhone.
After almost two years of waiting, Google Voice’s iPhone app has been finally approved in the App Store. It looks much better than the HTML5 web app and you can enable push notifications for voicemail and text messages.
Google Voice for iPhone doesn’t beat the Android app because it doesn’t integrate with the standard phone app, doesn’t synchronize the inbox and doesn’t offer advanced options for notifications, but that’s because iOS has many limitations.
Google says that the application requires iOS 3.1 or a more recent version of Apple’s mobile operating system. Google Voice is still limited to the US, but you no longer need an invitation to use it. Hopefully, Google will add support for the VoIP service from Gmail in a future update.
With this native app, you’ll continue to have access to all the major Google Voice features on your iPhone, like:
Cheap rates for international calls
Free text messaging to U.S. numbers
Display your Google Voice number as caller ID when making calls
In addition to these benefits, the app provides some features that make using Google Voice on your iPhone a much better experience:
With push notifications, the app will alert you instantly when you receive a new voicemail or text message
Most of your calls will be placed via Direct Access Numbers, making them connect just as quickly as regular phone calls
Google Voice for iPhone is available to download from the Apple App Store today. You’ll need an iPhone with iOS 3.1 or later and a valid Google Voice account to use the app. At this time, Google Voice is available in the U.S. only.
Warning: This tip is only for Gmail users outside US.
Google says that the latest Gmail feature that allows you to make phone calls is only available in the US, but that’s not true. If you set Gmail’s interface language to English (US), you should see the “Call phone” option in the chat roster. You can also buy credit using Google Checkout.
If you’re not in the US and you want to add credit to your account, make sure that you DON’T CLICK the “Upgrade your account” button from Google Voice. This feature is only useful if you are in the US, since it lets you get a Google Voice number. Unfortunately, if you click on that button and you’re not in the US, you’ll no longer be able to buy credit.
Here’s what you’ll see after clicking on “Upgrade your account”:
I don’t think there’s a way to downgrade your account, so the best thing to do is to avoid clicking that button. Google could easily solve this problem by hiding the button for non-US users or by allowing users to stop the upgrade.
Update. You can cancel the upgrade if you use a US proxy (try UltraSurf if you use Windows).
Update 2. A Google spokesperson said: “We’re looking into this and will keep you updated.”
If you’re in the US, you can now use Google Voice without asking for an invitation. Three years after acquiring GrandCentral, Google finally makes the service widely available.
“A little over a year ago, we released an early preview of Google Voice, our web-based platform for managing your communications. We introduced one number to ring all your phones, voicemail that works like email, free calls and text messages to the U.S. and Canada, low-priced international calls and more—the only catch was you had to request and receive an invite to try it out. Today, after lots of testing and tweaking, we’re excited to open up Google Voice to the public, no invitation required,” explains Google.
Google Voice has a lot in common with Gmail. They’re both innovative communication services and they both help you manage your communication flow. Gmail has been available as an invitation-only service for about 3 years, just like Google Voice.
The next steps for Google Voice should be expanding the service’s availability outside US, integrating with Gizmo5 and becoming a VoIP service, integrating with Gmail and Google Talk.
CJ, a reader of this blog, already found some signs of a future integration:
“Late last year, Google Talk appeared as an option for Phone Type when adding a new phone in the Google Voice settings. I added my Google Talk account, but could not verify it. I just left it in there unverified because I knew at some point the day would come. At some point in the past few weeks, I was able to get my Gmail Voice Chat client to ring when attempting to verify the Google Talk account in my Google Voice account, but the call always immediately failed. Now in the past two or three days I’ve been able to answer the call and hear the prompt to enter the verification code, but there’s no way to send the verification digits. I tried generating DTMF tones and sending them through the microphone, but it doesn’t work. So close!”
If you haven’t yet tried Google Voice, we can’t wait for you to try it out and let us know what you think. Check out our revamped features page to learn about everything Google Voice can do, and if you haven’t seen it yet, this video provides a good overview in less than two minutes:
We’re proud of the progress we’ve made with Google Voice over the last few years, and we’re still just scratching the surface of what’s possible when you combine your regular phone service with the latest web technology. It’s even more amazing to think about how far communication has come over the last couple hundred years. To put things in context, we created this infographic to visualize some recent history of human communication and how Google Voice uses the web to help people communicate in more ways than ever before (click the image for a larger version):
Update 10:53AM: Just to clarify, though we’ve opened up sign-ups, Google Voice is still limited to everyone in the U.S. for now.
Google tests a new feature that makes Gmail chat more useful: users are able to make and receive Google Voice calls from Gmail. A new phone icon opens a Gmail chat window with a dialpad, an option to find contacts, a credit balance and a call button.
Right now, if you want to call someone using Google Voice, you need a phone. You can either visit Google Phone’s site on your computer, enter the phone number you want to call and wait until Google calls your phone and connects you for free or use Google Phone app on a mobile phone.
The new feature will allow users to make voice calls over the Internet and it’s likely that it won’t be limited to Gmail. In April, TechCrunch reported that Google “built a Google Voice desktop application to make and receive calls” and that the application is tested internally. Google used technology from Gizmo5, a VoIP service acquired by Google last year.
For now, Google Voice’s integration with Gmail is not publicly available.
Google Calendar gets a new look
The Google Calendar team has been doing some spring cleaning. On Wednesday, we revealed Google Calendar’s new cleaner design. We streamlined text that appears in the interface, made the controls more compact and created more space on screen to display information from your calendar.
New themes for forms in Google Docs
We also spruced up forms in Google Docs with the addition of 24 new themes for online surveys that you create. As you’re editing your form, just click the “Theme” button to browse the gallery and change the look and feel of your form.
Drag images into Gmail messages
On Tuesday, we simplified a common action: inserting images in a Gmail message. If you use Google Chrome, now you can drag images files from your computer’s desktop or folders onto the body of a message you’re composing, and Gmail will add the image to your message. You can easily resize the image right in the Gmail compose window before hitting “Send.”
Google Voice open to students
We’ve heard from many students how Google Voice makes it easier to deal with the process of getting a new dorm phone number and moving back and forth between school and home each year. Voicemail transcriptions that students can glance at while in class are also useful. To help more students take advantage of these tools, last Friday we opened up Google Voice for students with .edu email addresses. Try it out!
Google Wave (Labs) open to all
Google Wave is a new team collaboration application that brings discussion and debate right into the context of content people are working on together. For the last year, Google Wave has been available to a limited set of testers and early users, but on Wednesday we moved Wave to Google Labs and now anyone can sign up. If you use Google Apps at your business, school or organization, your IT manager can enable Wave from the Google Apps control panel now, too.
More Google applications coming for Google Apps customers
Speaking of new applications for businesses, schools and organizations, we also just announced that starting this summer, Google Apps customers will be able to sign into Blogger, Picasa Web Albums, Google Reader, AdWords and many more Google services with their Google Apps accounts. If you’re the Google Apps administrator for your organization, read more about how this change will work and sign up to start testing. We welcome your feedback.
Contextual gadgets in Gmail
Gmail can already display previews of documents, videos and photo albums so you don’t have to switch back and forth between windows, and now Google Apps customers can add other contextual gadgets from the Google Apps Marketplace. There are already gadgets for project management, social networking, rich contact profiles and much more, and we hope developers will build their own contextual gadgets with the new Gmail API.
Google Apps Script lets customers automate business processes ranging from expense approvals to time-sheet tracking to ticket management and order fulfillment. On Tuesday we launched Google Apps Script improvements, including Java database connectivity, custom user interfaces for scripts, the ability to invoke scripts from any web page and integrations with more Google services, like Google Maps. To help you get started with scripts, we also released a new set of script templates with pre-built functionality.
Google Calendar Connector for Lotus Notes®
Many companies still using old legacy technologies are looking to make a seamless switch to the cloud, and now Lotus Notes customers can move to Google Apps in phases, at their own pace. Last week we launched the Google Calendar Connector for Lotus Notes®, which allows businesses to switch to Google Apps department by department. Google Apps users in your organization can look up free/busy info for coworkers still on Lotus Notes and vice versa.
Who’s gone Google?
Thousands more businesses and schools have “gone Google” since our last update, including Arista Networks (where Andy Bechtolsheim serves as Chairman) and Smart Furniture. Both of these companies had a common motivation for moving to Google Apps: being able to focus their precious resources on core business challenges by letting technology experts at Google handle the day-to-day operations of running an email system.
Posted by Jeremy Milo, Google Apps Marketing Manager
We’ve heard college students in particular really appreciate getting their voicemail sent to their email, sending free text messages and reading voicemail transcriptions rather than listening to messages (especially handy while in class).
But since Google Voice is currently only available by invite, a lot of students are still listening to voicemail and sending text messages the old-fashioned way. As a recent college graduate, I can’t think of anything more painful! So starting today, we’ll be giving priority Google Voice invites to students. To get an invite, just visit google.com/voice/students and enter an email address that that ends in .edu.
So if you’re a student, submit your email address and a Google Voice invite will arrive in your inbox within 24 hours. Keep in mind that only one invite will be be sent per email address and Google Voice is currently only available in the U.S. And if you’re new to Google Voice, check out our introductory videos at youtube.com/googlevoice.
Google Voice is a great service, one of the best things Google has released in a long time. Unfortunately, most casual web users have no idea what it is. Or more specifically, what it’s purpose is. And in fact, there’s even still some confusion amongst heavy web users about whether Voice is VoIP, for example (it’s not — yet). So Google has today launched a series of videos to explain the service.
The first (embedded below) is a simple overview, “What is Google Voice.” The 11 others go into more detail about actual features such as the mobile app (as in, the one that actually works on the iPhone), how to block callers, sharing voicemails, personalized greetings, and connecting all your numbers to your one Google Voice numbers, among other things. You can find them all on this new YouTube page that Google has created (just in case you thought Microsoft were the only ones using YouTube for product promotion).
There is also a video describing voicemail transcription. My favorite part of this video is how Google skirts around how the vast majority of the voice transcriptions are in absolute gibberish. “Transcriptions aren’t perfect, but we hope they’re good enough to save you from listening to the message.” I have yet to experience that. Instead, here are some of my favorites that I’ve gotten just in the past couple of weeks: