Saturday, September 12, 2009

Google Voice Rocks

I got a free Grand Dialer account early on when it came out. I never made much use of it though. Then it was bought by Google and still it sat unused for a long time. This week, though, I had a thought. 

A while back I wrote about home phones and cell phones. To summarize, even if I could cancel my landline and move the number to google (you currently cant do this) I need to keep a home phone connection for:

a) Our home business uses that number and its been known for 10+ years and its in publications etc
b) We have an ADT system and it needs to dial out
c) 911 is better with a landline

The problem, though, is that with 10+ years at the same number and as a landline we get spammers calling constantly. The result is that we never answer the phone and our voice mailbox fills up. Sometimes its important stuff but because of the fear of the spammers (yes, i've put the number on all the do not call lists I can find) we delay in getting back to people and we can't really be reached through that number.

So what was my Google voice thought? Forward my home number to my google voice number. From there use google voice to manage the traffic. You can upload your address book (new after the google acquisition) including the groups. Then on a per-group basis set the desired behavior. 

So here's my setup:

1) Home phone always forwards to google voice
2) We have 3 cell phones, one for me, one for the wife, and one for the barn
3) Depending on the address book group a person falls in it will ring 1, 2 or 3 of those phone numbers. 
4) Also depending on the group the person falls in it may prompt them for their name first so we can decide if we want the call (they hear ringing until we accept)
5) If they're in no groups, no phones ring. They get to leave a voicemail if they want (spammers dont, but if they did google has some answers for that)
6) If someone like my dad calls, all 3 phones ring, if someone picks it up and its for the other person you can transfer to the other cell phone with a google voice command. 
7) Voice mails come in email with (weak) transcriptions. You can listen to them from your email (even on the iPhone!) and you can forward them to each other. You can also manage them in the order you want to -- no more wading through 17 useless voice mails to get to the one you want. (the transcriptions are amusing though)

I turned all this on a couple days ago and its magic. We've received NO unwanted calls and we're now easier for people to reach. Call one number (our home #) and you'll reach who we want you to reach.

I'm not sure this is the use case Google Voice envisioned, a family google voice line, but as I did with my email, i'm using Google as an advanced spam filter and they're great at it.

I think about people with multiple houses that they travel between and think how this can solve their problems too. Forward those land lines to google and then use it to route to where you want when you want. With remote management through google you have total control.

Next steps? Perhaps change my cell # and route everyone to my google voice number or my home number. I'm getting a lot of spammers on the cell phone now. Problem with handing out the google voice number is that you start being really tied to google voice versus the solution it provides. Handing out the home number though could get messy if google voice ever went away. I'll ponder that a while before I change my cell #. 

My guess is that i'll just change it and hand out a google voice #, I like living on the edge :)