Google Voice is one of the most cost-effective VoIP solutions for personal or corporate use. It is not included in our list of best business VoIP phone services. But we think it’s a smart choice for discerning Google users or people who don’t mind a blurred line between business and personal calling. However, if you’re looking for a quality VoIP service that doesn’t rely on a Google group (which is great for a wide range of companies), our top overall pick is Nextiva.
Being an all-in-one business communication platform, it includes video conferencing, business SMS, online fax, and much more. It’s an all-in-one VoIP solution for businesses of all sizes, including new start-ups for Fortune 500 companies. Nextiva’s reliability, feature set, and price point make it our top pick, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone — especially if you don’t need all of those extra features.
If you’re shaking your head in agreement, Google Voice is an excellent Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) alternative. Keep reading to learn more about it, who should use it, what infrastructure it needs, how it works, and how to get started in the next 30 minutes.
Why you should use Google Voice
Almost everyone has a mobile phone number that is used for different things, but primarily for personal reasons.
Some people may have a second phone number dedicated only to work-related communications.
Others may have a land line in their offices or at home.
Then there are a rare few who might also have a landline phone number at home for making personal calls. Balancing all these numbers and different phones is not the simplest way to manage multiple numbers.
Google Voice offers a new way to simplify.
With it, you can forward all your numbers to one single number, allowing you to answer calls from all different phone numbers on the same device.
Google Voice is a favorite among small business owners and large companies.
It simplifies phone calls for everyone and brings everything in one place.
You may feel like the last thing you want to do is get another phone number.
However, your Google Voice phone number may be the last number you ever need. This telephone service is ideal for integrating multiple communication channels into one location. And this is just one of the many additional features.
This is why you should stop carrying multiple phones and use VoIP instead.
1. You can receive and make calls from Gmail
If you have a Gmail account, even free, you can make calls to the US and Canada right from your inbox for free. The problem is that every time you call, a random phone number is assigned that the recipient won’t recognize – and most people ignore calls from unknown numbers.
With Google Voice, you can solve this problem right away. Once you select your Google Voice number, all outgoing Gmail calls will come from that number. This way, recipients can get to know your connection and are more likely to respond to you.
To ease the deal, you can also answer calls within Gmail and Google Hangouts, right from your computer.
2. You get unlimited free texts
Free texting is included with Google Voice. This is a great benefit if, like most people, you prefer the speed and convenience of sending a quick text message.
With the Google Voice app, you can send text messages through the service from your phone. This can help you keep your professional texts, done through Google Voice, separate from your personal correspondence.
Plus, you can send text messages from any platform and device when you need to. Access Google Voice from your web browser or even install its Chrome extension to receive notifications and send and receive messages within that browser.
This leads to the added benefit of reliable synchronization across all platforms. Not only are all your messages updated from wherever you reach them, but if you need to reset your phone or get a new one, you won’t lose your text messages. You can always search your text archive on the Internet to keep track of any information you may need.
3. You can forward all your calls to one number
A Google Voice number allows you to forward your calls to other numbers. This comes in handy when it’s time to get a new phone or switch cell phone companies. 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 existing old phone number.
Google also has an 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. Although this feature comes at an additional cost, it may come in handy for you, especially if it is important that you keep your contact numbers separate for business and personal use.
4. Your voicemails are transcribed
Not only does Google Voice come with voicemail, but it takes things a step further and uses advanced speech recognition technology to convert your voicemail into text.
This is a great feature for those who need to determine if voicemail is important enough to leave a meeting or for people who hate listening to voicemails. Additionally, if you receive a large number of voicemails, you can scan them for important information just as easily as you can scan your emails.
5. You can listen to the voicemail messages as they are on the left
One of the great features about this phone service is that you can listen to your voicemail messages when someone is leaving. This is very unique and can be a useful tool for filtering calls and messages.
Not only that, but you can also decide to answer the phone amid someone leaving a voicemail by simply pressing the * key.
6. You can set up call routing rules
This service allows you to forward all your numbers and calls to one Google Voice number. However, this is not all. You can set up specific call rules to determine which calls go, where, and when.
For example, let’s say you play golf all day and don’t want to be bothered. You can set up rules to forward any calls on your cell phone to your office during the hours you play golf.
Another option is to adjust the order of importance with the phones if you need to make sure you get a call. This means that someone trying to reach you can call your Google Voice number, and you set it 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. You don’t answer the other two. Or you can have all the numbers ring at once, which is a great feature for small business owners or independent contractors.
7. You can record calls
Google Voice allows you to easily record calls and lets you 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 phone meetings and interviews. It can be saved and referenced when necessary.
8. You can easily switch between phones
The unique feature of this service is that you can switch phones during a call. Just press the star key, other phones you’ve connected to your Google Voice will ring, and you can choose which one. 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 has changed.
How does Google Voice work
All of the above features can work thanks to the 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 to 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 an internet connection is required to make any Google Voice phone calls.
What you need for Google Voice
All you need to set up Google Voice is a valid Google account and a phone number in the US or Canada (either mobile or landline). This phone number is what Google uses to verify your identity and forward number.
When calls are made from the US and used by one person, almost all Google Voice numbers to the US and Canada are free. You’ll likely only get Google Voice for personal use if you’re just looking to make and receive calls.
However, if you want more features and more access, you’ll want to take a look at Google’s paid workspace plans. There are four to choose from, and each comes with access to the full suite of Google cloud products (such as Drive, Docs, Jamboard, and more).
Business Starter for Beginners costs $6 per user per month and provides:
- Business email
- Video calls for up to 100 participants
- 30 GB of cloud storage
- Security controls and management
At $12 per user per month, Business Standard adds another 50 participants who are allowed to video calls and increases storage space up to 2TB.
But, even better, it adds two really useful communication features that are missing in Business Starter: call noise cancellation and auto-save for recorded meetings to Google Drive.
Business Plus continues the trend of adding cloud storage (5 TB) and video calling capacity (up to 500 participants). You also get more advanced security control and the ability to archive and search through the call data vault. This plan will save you $18 per user per month.
Finally, there’s the custom-priced Enterprise plan, which allows for full control and can be customized to fit your needs through a chat with Google salespeople.
How to get started with Google Voice
Setting up Google Voice is a fairly quick and easy process.
Step 1: Sign in to Google
When you head to the Google Voice homepage, you’ll see an option in the upper right corner to sign in to your Google account.
If you are already signed in to your Google account on this browser, you will be taken directly to the next step.
Step 2: Choose your Google Voice phone number
Once you’re signed in, you’ll choose a phone number in your area that you want to create as your Google Voice number.
Search by your city name or area code to see available numbers. If there are no numbers available in your area, you can try one nearby.
This also buys a virtual number for a place other than where you live. This gives you the option to use a more local area code for your customers, your customer base, or whomever you are connected to.
Keep in mind that you will need your current US phone number to complete the process of obtaining your Google Voice number.
Step 3: Check the current phone number
Once you find a virtual phone number you want, click Select.
Next, you will be asked to verify your current number. Do this by clicking Verify and typing the number you want Google to forward your calls to (for example, your cell phone number).
Click Submit Code, then wait for Google to contact you or send you a verification code. Once you have this code, enter it in the appropriate field and click Verify.
Step 4: Finish the setup on the computer
To confirm that the number you have verified is indeed the number you want to forward your calls to, tap Prompt.
You will have the option to change this number later if you need to.
Click Finish twice, and you are ready to use Google Voice on your PC.
Step 5: Download the Google Voice app
Next, you want to turn on Google Voice on your phone. Go 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 just like calling someone on a regular phone. This can be done either from your computer or from your smartphone.
Go to voice.google.com on your computer or open the Voice app on your phone.
Go to the “Calls” tab. If the person you want to call is in your recent calls list, hover over their name/number and tap the phone icon to call them. You can also call someone from your contact list on the right side. Or you can connect manually using the keypad.
In order for your Google Voice number to remain active, you must make at least one call or text each month. If you fail to do so, you will lose your Google Voice number after 30 days of inactivity. In this case, you will need to register for a new number the next time you log in.