When it comes to versatile solutions for free phone lines and service, Google Voice can be a great option. The positives surrounding this service often far outweigh the cons, and while there are alternatives available, few offer the same range of free and full services that are provided by Google Voice. Without paying a penny, you can get access to a range of features, including the ability to forward incoming phone calls to any mobile phone or online softphone, receive and send texts through a phone or web app, and record voicemails.
For many small businesses with limited budgets, Google Voice is the perfect solution for handling business communications. However, Google Voice was primarily designed to be used by consumers – rather than business owners. Even in spite of all it’s great features, many people still wonder whether this is the right solution compared to full VoIP providers.
Review Time – What is Google Voice?
Google Voice is a virtual phone service that’s provided by Google for free. If you have a Gmail account or Google account, then you can sign up and receive your Google Voice number. New users need to supply a forwarding number, so you still have to have a mobile telephone. Once you’re signed up, Google will let you choose a free number with almost any area code, which you can use to start receiving and making calls, as well as sending SMS and text messages.
All this functionality can come straight from your web browser, or it can make use of the Google Hangouts softphone so that you can get access to all the free calls you like. From the same app, you can also access voicemail transcripts and recordings, text almost any number, and more. Some of the features you can find in Google Voice include:
- Video conferencing through Google Hangouts
- Basic conferencing calls for people in the U.S.
- Call history log display
- Call forwarding
- Transcribed and recorded voicemails
- Sending and receiving texts and SMS
- The ability to make and receive phone calls from apps and mobile phones
- The ability to act as a forwarding system for an existing mobile number
So, What Can’t it Do?
As a free service, Google Voice doesn’t necessarily “have it all”. However, the limitations on this service will only be as frustrating as your business allows them to be. After all, different companies require different voice solutions.
Google Voice can’t:
- Work without an existing mobile number
- Make emergency calls
- Offer a fantastic SMS or MMS service, and is only fully supported for users that migrate into Google Hangouts
- Send messages anywhere in the world, though you can receive messages from any country.
- Link to any hardware – you might need to pick a specific new IP desk phone
- Forward calls for a long time – phone calls that aren’t answered within 25 seconds go straight to voicemail
- Offer direct support. There’s no phone number or email to contact if you’re having trouble with Google Voice. Instead, you need to rely completely on online resources like the Google Voice Help Centre FAQ and available groups
Could Google Voice Replace a Full VoIP Option?
The question is – despite its strengths and limitations, could Google Voice replace the comprehensive VoIP solutions that might be offered by hosted PBX services? The shorter answer is yes, you can always use Google Voice as a free alternative to an entirely new phone system. However, depending on how your business runs and the type of functionality you need, you might find that the Google Voice solution is too restrictive.
The truth is that every business is different, so whether Google Voice will work for you will depend on whether you feel its limitations will hold you back or not. It all comes down to you.