This post is part of a series, New Tools for Entrepreneurial Writers, which overviews specific tools ripe
with opportunity for creative & entrepreneurial writers. The only
limit is your imagination! (If you're the creator of a new software or
online tool & would like it featured, contact me.)
Google has recently opened up its Google Voice service to everyone. This is primarily a FREE service.
What is Google Voice? You can read about it & watch a tutorial here, but essentially, it allows you to have a new phone number (a new one that you choose through Google) that is not tied to any one device, carrier, or location. It always stays the same once you choose it.
When you give this Google phone number to other people, you can set it up to forward to one or more other phone numbers, or go to a specific voice mail box based on who is calling.
(Of course, you can also use Google Voice as a way to make free U.S. phone calls and text message for free, but that's not the purpose of this post for writers—though writers who make a ton of phone calls & send buckets of texts may want to consider the cost benefits here.)
So, uses for writers?
- Google Voice instantly transcribes voice messages! That means: You can record conversations (get permission first), and get an instant transcription (though maybe not word perfect).
- If you frequently record audio "notes to self," and later have to transcribe them—or would like a way to organize and save them on your computer—Google Voice is going to be your best friend.
- Google Voice can store, send, and share voice mail messages indefinitely, and offers you a way to organize and tag them away from a specific phone.
- You can have calls routed to any line, route specific types of calls to voicemail, offer personalized greetings, screen your messages, and easily conference.
- Excellent privacy control—no one has to know your "real" number. But you can also set up Google Voice features with one of your existing phone numbers.
Now, if this sounds a lot like Skype to you … yes! But for everyday folks, Skype isn't the household name that Google is. Plus Google's controls are intuitive and probably easily integrated into whatever else you're doing online (e.g., Gmail or Google Docs).
For my part, I've thought about the possibility of using my Google Voice number as a way to have open office hours (or a hotline!) for the writing community. So, for instance, at certain times of the month, I can open it up, but I never need to worry about people calling the number at other, unapproved times—because it doesn't have to ring my real number unless I want it to.
What uses can you envision? Or do you already use it? Share your experiences!