Online search titan Google announced Wednesday 12-26-2012 that Google Voice would continue to be offered for free through 2013.
For those of you who are unaware of Google Voice here is a short explanation.
If you have a Gmail account you may or may not be aware that a small plugin known as Google Talk. This little gem lets you make free phone calls via your PC to any phone numbers in the US and Canada using your Gmail account. It was great for people who were at home and didn't want to use up their minutes from their cell phones. Simple input the phone number you wanted to call and click the call button. When the other person answers you can talk to your hearts content. Or until the hang up on you. ;)
There was one issue though. You could make calls but not receive them. And you did not know what the number you would be calling from so the person on the other side might just ignore the call because they did not recognize the number. I made a test call to myself off my firefox browser to see where the call was being placed from. The lovely city of Escondido, CA was the origin point. Not sure if this number changes or not. If it doesn't then you could simply text a friend too add that number to their contact list. But, if they miss the call you are out of luck. Any attempt to return the phone call is greeted with a message "we cannot complete your call. Please try again."
It's still a nifty thing to have if you need to make a call when you expect the person on the other end will be answering (business phone calls, etc.) and/or you expect to be on hold for an extended period. So it does have it's uses.
What would really make it great would for people to be able to return calls if they missed them.
That is where Google Voice comes in. With a Gmail account and the Google Voice app you are able to have a permanent phone number for people to call you back if they miss your call. Simply download the app, which conveniently adds a little icon to you chrome browser, and you are set.
Well, the process is a little more involved. Sign in into you Gmail account via the Chrome Browser. It may work for other browsers as well. Your Gmail account must be running for you to receive calls and you must have both the Google Talk and Google Voice software as well.
You will need to set up the Google Voice software as well. A pretty simple process. You select your phone number, set up a forwarding number, (usually either a cell phone or land line) and you are off to the races.
To be brief I did not go into the process in detail. But, it is rather simple.
Open a Gmail account if you don't already have one. Then use Google Search to find both the Google Talk and the Google Voice software for more detailed instructions.
Calls to the United States and Canada are free (data usage charges for cell phones are not included). International calls do cost as well. And there are only a limited number of countries where this is available too if I am not mistaken.
If this applies to you then enjoy. :)
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