Using Google Voice as Primary Number

When Google launched its own Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service, called Google Voice, in 2009, it was available through invitation only. The same was true with its Gmail service, and just like Gmail, Google Voice has since become available for everyone, free of charge. Google Voice allows people to get one phone number that they can use across all their devices. Whenever a caller dials the number, Google Voice rings every device that's synced to the service, unless the user has set up their account to prevent certain connected devices from ringing.

This makes the service a simple way to consolidate phone numbers, as the user no longer needs to give out cell, home and office phone numbers. Not only does this make it easier for them, it makes it easier for anyone who needs to reach them and doesn't need to try multiple numbers. And there's no need to go through the hassle of switching phone numbers, either, because Google Voice lets users port in their current phone numbers, no matter their mobile service provider.

There's no service fee for Google Voice, which offers free calling and texting to all the United States and Canada. International calling is also available for a low rate. At first glance, Google Voice looks like a great way to reduce phone expenses and avoid any costlier residential VoIP plans. The big question is whether Google Voice is reliable enough to work as a primary phone service. Even though it has many benefits, there are also some drawbacks to keep in mind, especially for those considering using Google Voice for all their telecommunication needs.


1. Get One Number Across Every Phone and Never Miss Another Call

Perhaps the most significant perk with Google Voice is that it allows the user to put all their devices under a single phone number. When the user registers for a Google Voice account, they get their Google Voice phone number. This also isn't just a completely random number, as the user gets some control in the process. They can select specific area codes, search for specific number combinations and select the number they want from a list of search results.

Once the user has their Google Voice number, they can connect it to their cell phone, home phone, work phone and any other lines of theirs that they want. Calls to the number ring all the connected devices, and the user can make calls from any connected device with the caller ID displaying the Google Voice number. It's even possible to make calls from a computer using Google Voice.

2. Integrate Communications

The many people who are already using Google services will find it quick and easily to integrate Google Voice with their other services. By accessing Google Voice in a format that looks quite a bit like the Gmail inbox, the user can check and respond to texts, look up their call history, listen to voicemails, and receive and make video calls. This functionality is available online through a computer or with a smartphone app that's available on both Android and iOS devices. There may be other ways for users to text from their computers, but these require installing an application on the user's phone and connecting to it. Google Voice is the more reliable option because it allows online texting even if the phone is off.

Google Voice has a transcription feature for voicemail messages that works for all messages left on calls to the Google Voice number. The recordings are also available. The transcription uses color indicators on the text to indicate the accuracy. Another helpful feature with Google Voice is the option to set different voicemail messages for specific callers.

3. Google Voice Allows Number Porting

Many users already have phone numbers that others know. It's inconvenient to update contact information with all those people and costly to print out business cards with a new phone number on them. That's not a problem with Google Voice, because it lets users port their current phone numbers over. If the user already obtained a Google Voice number and decides to port a phone number over, the number they port will simply take the place of the Google Voice number. After the porting occurs, any Google Voice numbers that the user has will be taken off the account within 90 days. During the porting process, there can be a dead zone for one or two days, which means the user might not get any messages or calls. There are also some other number porting limitations that are covered in detail in the disadvantages section of this guide.

4. Flexibility During Calls

Google Voice has an array of tools that allow users to set up their service exactly how they want, which also helps to make the call experience the best it can be. When a user receives a call, Google Voice looks up the name in the user's address book to provide caller ID. If it can't find anything, it can request that the caller states their name to provide an audio caller ID. If the user wants, they can set up call screening that requires every caller to supply this audio caller ID.

Since Google Voice can be connected to multiple devices, the user can also seamlessly switch between those devices while on a call without any interruptions. For example, if the user is talking on their cell phone and notices that the battery is low, they can switch the call to their home phone or laptop to continue talking. When using the Google Voice web application, there's the option of starting and stopping audio recording at any time.


1. There's No Emergency Calling

For most people, this is the most significant issue of relying on Google Voice. The service doesn't provide the option of making a direct emergency 911 call. For those who want to avoid a phone service provider and make the switch to Google Voice, they will need to figure out an alternative plan if they ever need to make an emergency call.

Those who didn't port their numbers to Google Voice can make emergency calls by dialing a number without an area code. Since Google Voice only makes calls with a full phone number, it will make the call from the user's phone without using Google Voice service.

If someone hasn't set up a Google Voice number but they call a public-safety answering point via Google Voice, that answering point's caller ID will have either a generic number or the word "unknown," meaning it likely won't be able to call the person back.

2. Lack of Support for Technical Issues

With standard phone service, there is obviously support for any type of technical issues. It may be a bit inconvenient or take longer than the user would like, but they can contact their provider by phone, email, live chat or in person at a store for any issues they have.

The same isn't true with Google Voice, because it doesn't have one-on-one customer service available for any of its services. There is a help page available online to cover common issues and frequently asked questions. Another option is a Google Voice Help Forum. However, these options may not be as efficient as dedicated customer service would be.

With posts on the Google Voice Help Forum, Google will almost always answer, but it could be over a day before the user gets a response. This can be a problem if a major issue occurs. For example, Google Voice once had an issue with duplicate phone numbers among its users, which caused problems in the call and text histories of the affected users. Issues like that can be a major hassle for users, and it may leave their phone service interrupted for days.

3. Complex Multimedia Messaging

Most of Google Voice is user-friendly and easy to understand. Calling is simple, as is use of the standard short messaging service (SMS) for sending and receiving texts. One problem is that Google Voice doesn't use the more advanced multimedia messaging service (MMS), used to transmit additional data. This has several effects on messaging with Google Voice. Instead of picture messages having the image embedded in the message, picture messages with Google Voice include a link to the image. Google Voice alone isn't effective for more advanced messaging features, including direct picture or video messages and group messages.

Fortunately, there is a solution for this. Google offers MMS communications through its Google Hangouts tool. Google designed this as its answer to competitor communication tools, including Microsoft Skype. If the user installs the Google Hangouts app, they can use that with Google Voice for MMS messages, group chats, video chats and more.

4. Reliability and Porting Problems

Reliability is always a consideration when it comes to VoIP services, even though this is an area where service has steadily improved with technological developments. And since Google is such a huge player in the tech industry, it has very reliable servers, meaning outages aren't very likely. They can and do happen, though, with one notable outage occurring at the beginning of 2014. If an outage occurs, Google Voice users won't be able to use the service during that time.

There are also a couple points to mention in regards to number porting with Google Voice. There is a small, one-time porting fee of $20 for taking an existing phone number to Google Voice. More of an issue is the fact that it's impossible to directly port VoIP or landline numbers to Google Voice. Instead, the user would first need to port a VoIP or landline number to a mobile carrier. After that, it's a quick one-step process to port a mobile number to Google Voice. So, while it can be done, it is a hassle to port a VoIP or landline number to Google Voice.

Is It Worth Making the Switch to Google Voice?

Google Voice has quite the lineup of unique, exciting features for its users to set up the type of phone service they want. These features are certainly beyond what users would find with most standard phone services, and even better is that they're available free of charge. It's convenient for a user to have one number that rings all their phones at once, and there's little worry of missed calls thanks to the digital integration that's possible through Google Voice. The only instances where communication could become an issue are a Google outage, which is rare, or unexpected technical concerns, which unfortunately could take time to resolve because of the limited support options.

With its many features and the option to combine Google Voice with other apps, it provides a topnotch experience for the user. If a person is considering making the switch, they should make sure that they meet three requirements. First and foremost, they'll need to figure out another way to make emergency calls if that's ever necessary. Second, they need to be sure that they can deal with a lack of direct customer support. Third, they must be okay dealing with no communication should one of those rare Google outages occur. If the person is fine with all that, then it may be time for them to give Google Voice a try as their primary phone service.
Created by: admin, Last modification: Fri 27 of Oct, 2017 (01:11 UTC)
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