By Alok Saboo on January 25th, 2010
Google Voice, without a doubt, is one of the biggest development in the VoIP space in the recent past. You can read my earlier posts to find more details about all the Google Voice features and how you can make free calls to USA and Canada. In this post, I will detail some of the undocumented features of Google Voice to make you a Google Voice Power User.
One of the major issues with Google Voice is that it uses your local cell phone plan minutes. If you want to use Google Voice, but do not want to consumer your local minutes, you can use options such as T-Mobile’s Fav 5, AT&T’s A-list, or Verizon’s Friends and Family. The idea is to use your GV number as one of the numbers on which you can make and receive unlimited calls.
2. Dial out a number without using the GV web interface
If you thought you need a computer to make a Google Voice calls, think again!! Here’s a little trick to make calls through your Google Voice account without using your computer (or Internet). Dial your Google Voice number from any phone which is already configured in your account, then Press 2, and then dial the number that you want to reach. Note that this will work only with Call Presentation is ON. To enable call presentation, go to Settings > Calls > Call Presentation. You can even automate the calling process using the smart-dial feature that I explained earlier. On the iPhone, just press and hold the * key till you see a “,”, which stands for a pause. You can even use Card Caller app on your iPhone to do this.
3. Enable push notifications on your iPhone
If you have an iPhone or an iPod Touch, you can easily push Google Voice notifications to your iPhone and receive unlimited free text messages on your iPhone without paying an extra penny to AT&T.
4. Use Gmail to manage your Google Voice text messages
Google Voice has a nifty feature, wherein you can forward your text messages (SMS) and voicemails to your Gmail account. Just go to Settings > Voicemail & SMS and enter the required details. Now all your notifications (both text and voicemails) will be automatically forwarded to the email that you entered. That’s not all, you can even reply to your text messages from within Gmail just like you would reply any other email. Now, you can have one less window open!!
5. In call transfer
GV offers a nice feature, wherein you can transfer your incoming calls to any other number registered on your Google Voice account. Please note that this feature works only on incoming calls. To transfer a call, just press “*” and all your Google Voice numbers registered in your account will ring for you to pick up. You can use this little trick to save your local cell phone minutes.
6. Call Recording
Here’s another great trick, which has saved me huge amount of work. You can easily record your calls on Google Voice for later reference. Again, this feature works only for incoming calls. To record your incoming calls, just press 4 and your call will be recorded. If you conduct telephonic interviews (like I do for this blog), this can be a great and inexpensive tool. It is usually a good idea to let the other party that you are recording the call. Although Google does not transcribe your recorded calls, I’ll soon have a tutorial to enable you to transcribe your recorded calls.
7. Decide whether you want to take the call
Google offers a standard call screening option, wherein you can screen unknown callers or callers with blocked caller ID. But there is another advanced option – ListenIN. When you receive a call on your Google Voice number, press 2 to direct the call to your voicemail. The other party will continue to leave a voicemail as normal, but you can continue to hear the voicemail as it is being recorded. If it sounds important and you want to talk, just press *, and you’re in.
8. Enable SIP on your Google Voice
Here’s a big one!! Google Voice does not support SIP and there are people that suggest Google Voice may never support SIP. But don’t worry, we have a great trick for you to enable SIP support in your Google Voice account.
[Update BONUS TIP] Dial using a word or phrase
The usual way to make a call using Google Voice is to enter the destination number and the number where you want to be connected. However, you could also dial a number by entering any word or phrase in the destination number field. For example, if you were to connect with VoIP Users Conference, you could directly enter the number as (518) VUC-VOIP instead of translating the words into the number. This can be especially useful while using a QWERTY keyboard, which does not map directly on to the standard keyboard.
Hope these tricks help you to take your GV experience to the next level. If you have any other tip or trick to enhance Google Voice experience, please share with your fellow readers.