We have all used Google to search or created a Gmail account, but I wonder how many average Internet users are aware of all of the other awesome services Google provides? Ever noticed the more link at the top of the screen when logged into a Google or Gmail account? There is actually a whole lot more there including Google Docs, YouTube (which believe it or not is a Google service even though they for some reason also have Google video, which seems redundant), Picasa for pictures, Webmaster services, and several others. Included in the extended list is Google Voice, an invite only service currently in beta which serves as a virtual inbox for your mobile or home phone. Everyone with a Google Voice account can invite up to 3 people to join but it is also possible to request an invite from Google. I waited 3 days before an invite was sent but I did eventually get one and it has changed the way that I use my mobile phone.
At first I thought that Google Voice was going to be a free version of a service similar to Skype. In a perfect world, everyone would get a free Skype account, get a free multi-client IM program with Skype plug-ins on their smartphone, and use that for voice chat. Then no one would really need to pay for a voice plan with their mobile carrier. Unfortunately most mobile users do not understand or want to learn how to do this so I will have to wait on everyone else to catch up before I can all start saving money on my phone bill.
Basically Google Voice gives you a phone number which you get to pick based on area code. When someone calls that number, their call is routed to the number you tell Voice to send incoming calls. If you have more than one phone it is possible to have the call sent to all of your phones at the same time. It is also possible to automatically send certain numbers to voicemail or say you are not taking calls and have every call go to voicemail.
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