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Google Voice

About a month ago, I started messing around with Google Voice, since it was finally made public. Google voice gives everyone a free new phone number which you can choose (from what is available) I got a cool new phone number that you can dial if you wanted to, its pretty easy to remember :). Works just as if you called my current number. GV also has an option where you don’t have to pick a new number, and it’ll just simply take over your voicemail. Its like Youmail, only better and completely free even for the advanced features. Here is a breakdown of the coolest features of GV’s voicemail portion:

1. You can have a VERY SHORT outgoing message with none of that “if you would like to send a message press blah blah if you would like to leave a message please stay on the line” BULLCRAP that takes like 45 seconds. My outgoing message just picks up and says “Ken’s Voicemail” *beep*. This feature was also present in Youmail.

2. You can have customized outgoing messages which change automatically based on who is calling you. I used to have messages such as “You have reached Ken, who is INCREDIBLY BUSY at the moment, please leave a message and he will get back to you in *robotic voice* 4192 hours” when I get calls from work, or outgoing messages in Japanese for people I knew who spoke Japanese. This feature was also present in Youmail.

3. One of the COOLEST features of the Google voicemail is the speech to text transcription. Anyone who leaves you a voicemail in reasonably clear english will automatically get translated to text and emailed/texted to you (you can set whether it texts or emails you, or both). Since I have push notification, as soon as I get an email my phone lets me know and I can go and READ the message that was left for me, or listen to it from the attached soundfile. The text transcription is SURPRISINGLY ACCURATE! Youmail had this feature, but it cost money. Google’s version is completely free.

Unfortunately, as famously published many times such as here, Apple has rejected Google’s official app for iPhone (shortly after accepting it, I’ve heard). Many speculate this is due to AT&T’s influence, since Google Voice has a lot of features that replicate what AT&T charges money for, only Google does it all for free (or very cheap, if we are talking about international calls). For that reason, GV support on iPhone is clearly behind that of Android (which sounds really well integrated). People with Android phones who don’t have Google Voice better look it up!