Google Voice has been around for quite a while now, but Googles efforts have been concentrated around the USA and Canadian market, but now this fantastic telephone and voicemail service has expanded it’s reach and an updated service is now available in the UK.
For the purpose of this post I subscribed to the Google Voice starter plan, due to this I am unable to review Multi-level auto attendant, Desk phone support, eDiscovery for calls, voicemail, and SMS records and Advanced reporting (BigQuery). I have reached out to Google asking for a test account but haven’t heard back.
- What is Google Voice
- Charges and Pricing
- Making & Receiving Calls
- Voicemail Transcriptions
- Block Spam Calls
- Do not Disturb
- G Suite Administrator
What is Google Voice
Google Voice is an internet based telephone service, it permits you to make and receive calls through a dedicated phone number, which looks exactly like a standard landline number. A number can be allocated to a single person or a whole department.
Google Voice Introduction Video
Prices range from $10 for starter, $20 for Standard and $30 for Premier, the prices are per user, per month. The table below shows you what is included in each of the plans. I opted for the starter plan as the extra few options for another $10 wasn’t worth it for me.
The above pricing doesn’t include your outbound phone calls, but my primary purpose for getting a Google Voice number is for inbound calls. Their pricing is a little confusing as it talks about using your mobiles data rather than minutes.
Rate per minute (GBP)
|United Kingdom – Freephone||£0.00|
|United Kingdom – Mobile||£0.02|
|United Kingdom – Mobile – EE||£0.01|
|United Kingdom – Mobile – O2||£0.01|
|United Kingdom – Mobile – ORANGE||£0.01|
|United Kingdom – Mobile – THREE||£0.01|
|United Kingdom – Mobile – VODAFONE||£0.01|
If you were using this service in the USA or Canada then most of your calls would be free, as so smugly mentioned on their web site. I don’t know why they haven’t followed suit here, I am hoping its just around the corner. Fingers crossed.
The odd thing about their pricing is that it lists calls from the UK to the USA as free of charge, but not UK to UK.
Making & Receiving Calls
You can make and receive your work calls on any device, from anywhere. Web, Smart Phone or Desktop Phone. There are apps available for Android and IOS.
Your G Suite administrator will assign you a phone number which is then attached to your Google user account. As the user, you can choose which device(s) you want your inbound calls routed to. For web, you need to be logged in so it’s recommended you pin the Google Voice tab in your browser.
Extra devices can be added via the web at https://voice.google.com/settings
Your Google Voice number lets you make and receive calls at voice.google.com or using the Voice mobile app. You can also link to phone numbers on which you want to get calls if you don’t answer from Voice. Calls to your Voice number will ring any linked number to which you forward calls.
I’s straightforward enough to change which linked number you want to route your calls to via https://voice.google.com/settings
In the call log you can click on a received, made or missed call and slect one of the following options:
- Archive – Moves the call to the archive folder
- Mark as Spam – Marks the call as SPAM
- Block number – Future calls from this number will be blocked
- Delete – Completely delete the call entry.
There is also a call screening option that enables you to hear a caller’s name when you pick up, quite useful for unrecognised, withheld numbers and annoying cold callers.
When you turn on call screening, all calls to your Voice number are screened on all your devices.
- Callers whose phone number isn’t in your Google Contacts are asked to speak their name before being connected. Their recorded name is played back to you. These callers are always asked to speak their name until you add their name and phone number to your contacts.
- Callers with a phone number in your Contacts aren’t asked to speak their name. Voice reads their name to you.
- Calls from businesses known to Google, such as businesses with a phone number in Google Maps, won’t be asked for their name. Voice reads the name to you during screening, such as “Call from Walgreen’s Pharmacy”.
Missed Call Email Notifications
If you miss a call, there is no need to worry, Google Voice has it covered. If enabled you will receive an email every-time you miss a call. Where available the phone number of the missed caller will be shown.
It’s easy to make a phone call, simply click on an existing contact or use the dialer to enter a phone number. Clicking the dialer and then pressing return will redial the last number called.
Displaying your Google Voice Phone Number
By default your voice number will display when you phone someone, if you do not want this to happen you can activate the Anonymous caller ID option. Not something I would recommend but the option is there if you need it.
You can out a call on hold from your mobile device and also on the web. (maybe in the future Google would allow some hold music)
I’ve only been using Google Voice for 4 days now but in that time I haven’t had a dropped call and the calls I have made and received have been clear. So at this point I can only say it’s good, but I will update this post in a few weeks time once I have tested it more thoroughly.
The voicemail is one of the best features, there is no limit to the amount of voicemails you can store in your account. Each voicemail can be a maximum 3 minutes long. On both the web and smartphone version you can see the number that called, the time and date as well and the length of the recording.
There is also a handy search function that makes finding voicemails a doddle.
Options for received voicemails are:
- Archive – Move the voicemail to the archive folder
- Mark as Spam – Moves the voicemail to your SPAM folder
- Block number – Future calls from this number will be blocked
- Download – Download the voicemail as an MP3 file
- Delete – Completely delete the voicemail
In settings you have some extra options:
- Receive voicemail by emails – Does what it says on the tin
- Record your own greeting(s) or use the default Google one
- Do not Disturb – Send all calls to voicemail. Great when you want to switch off from work, like those extended Friday lunches.
There are also some Google Calendar integrations:
- Follow working hours – With this option enabled, Google Voice will work within the hours you set in the calendars working hours settings. A brilliant feature which sends calls to voicemail when you are not in work time.
- Follow out of office – Send calls to voicemail when Calendar shows you as out of office.
Now for something really clever, but maybe a little worrying for privacy advocates out there. When a voicemail is left, Google will use its AI to transcribe the message. If you have email notifications setup, as well as an audio file, you will also see a full text copy of your message.
Above also shows the iPhone app, which plays the audio message as well as a transcript.
I think this is an excellent feature, that can save a massive amount of time. Plus creates useful possibilities for search. As you don’t have any storage restrictions and the benefit of using Googles search, you can search and find those old messages with ease.
Unwanted calls from unknown callers
Just like in Gmail, Google Voice comes with a SPAM folder. Where calls and voicemails you mark as SPAM are moved, and if enabled Google will use its AI to determine SPAM and silently move the call or voicemail to SPAM.
If a number that Google knows is spam tries to contact you, all their calls and voicemail messages will be automatically moved to your Spam folder.
Mark as NOT Spam
If any call or voicemail is incorrectly marked as SPAM you can click it and mark as NOT Spam.
Do not Disturb
Do not disturb – There are times when we just don’t want the phone ringing, it may be that you just want to finish a little earlier one Friday or a brass band decides to start playing outside your office window. For this occasions there is no need to panic as it’s just a single click and your phone number is set to do not disturb and all calls are sent to voicemail.
Easy to Administer
I found is really easy to assign licences and numbers to users. Everything is managed from your normal G Suite admin account, so managing aspects of voice feels familiar and intuitive.
Phone numbers can be assigned to users in bulk with automated emails being sent to the end user with links to guides etc.
From what I have seen so far I would recommend Google Voice, it’s not out of most peoples price range, it’s feature packed with some great AI stuff and it’s suitable for solo workers up to corporations.
If Google could bring themselves to offer an exclusive calling package like they have with the USA and Canada, Voice could be a market leader in the UK in no time at all.
If this article has inspired you to try Voice then please comment below. If you have any questions or I have missed something then again, please leave a comment.