y you need to start using Voice, your Android phone’s best-kept secret

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 27 Jan 2014

Voice is a powerful suite of tools comprised of a dedicated phone number, call routing, caller announce, call recording, free texting, online voicemail, voicemail-to-text transcription, low-cost International calling, more (whew!). It’s an amazing suite of features, you can leverage this service to add these killer tools to just about any phone.

Best yet: Voice is particularly powerful when paired with an Android phone, thanks to tightly knit integration of the Android Voice app. l you need is a account to sign up, you can then choose a number from one of the many available area code options.

google voice sign up

You first sign up for Voice via your web browser.

Caller Announce

One of the Voice features that I find most useful is Caller Announce, which also refers to as “call screening,” “call presentation” “audio Caller ID.” th call screening turned on, an incoming caller is prompted to record his or her name before the call is routed to your Voice number. The Voice service then rings your destination number (or even numbers) the freshly recorded name is announced to you before you answer the call. Based on the recorded announcement (do you really want to talk to this person?), you can choose to take the call or route it to voicemail.

google voice call screening copy

Here you can disable call screening for a specific person.

If you opt to banish a call to the abyss of the voicemail system, you can listen in live on the in-progress voice message, even interrupt the recording mid-stream by pressing the asterisk on your dialer to connect the call.

Via the Voice web interface, call screening can even be turned off for specific contacts, removing the inconvenience of announcing one’s name for people you always want to let through.

No-cost text messaging

Another great benefit of using Voice is that all text messaging occurs over your data connection, not over your mobile provider’s SMS gateway. Texting through Voice doesn’t chip away at your plan’s allotted text message bucket, which is an enormous benefit for folks who don’t have an unlimited messaging plan.

googlevoice texting

If you want to avoid your wireless carrier’s text messaging charges altogether, Voice has you covered.

The Voice Android app

The default screen in the Voice Android app is the Inbox, which displays all of your voicemails (including voice-to-text transcriptions) all of the text messages sent or received using your voice number.

In the Voice Android app settings, you can configure your phone to use Voice to make all calls (which will result in your Voice number being displayed on caller ID); to not use Voice for calls; or to use Voice for international calls only. You can also choose to be prompted every single time you make a call, with the option to use Voice or not.

roid voice app

The inbox of your Android Voice app even shows voice-to-text transcriptions.

Advanced voicemail

The voicemail features within Voice really shine. You’ll get email notifications for all new voicemails, along with text transcriptions of new messages. You can play back a voicemail directly from the Voice app, or from within Gmail on the web. There’s no need to ever dial a number first before listening to a voicemail, as they’ll all be delivered straight to your email inbox, appear right in the Voice Android app.

newvoicemail ingmaile

Here’s how a new voicemail email notification appears in the Gmail web app.

th Voice, you can also set up custom voicemail greetings per caller. For example, you can record one voicemail greeting for your Mom another for your girlfriend, allowing for intimate customization of what the incoming caller will hear before he or she leaves a message.

en you play a voicemail from the Voice Android app, you’ll see the text transcription of that voicemail right on the screen. ile the audio plays, you’ll see Voice follow along highlight each word in red in the transcription as the corresponding audio word is played.

googlevoice playvoicemail

And here’s the interface for playing back a voicemail in the Voice Android app.

The accuracy of the Voice audio-to-text transcription is spotty, but the presence of a few correct words the context of sentence structure allows you to infer what the voicemail actually says. As such, you don’t even need to play the audio in many cases. In the transcription text, you’ll notice that some words are highlighted darker than others. The darker the word, the more accurate the transcription—at least per Voice’s own estimate of its transcription abilities.

You won’t want to go back to your old, clunky, inflexible voicemail system after using voicemail. But guess what? You won’t have to. The Voice platform makes it easy to configure your existing phone to route to voicemail for all unanswered calls, bypassing your wireless carrier’s inferior voicemail system.

How I use Voice

For personal contacts, I give out my direct mobile number. For anyone everything else that requires me to provide a phone number, I give out my Voice number. en my Voice number is dialed, my mobile number my home VoIline both ring.

googlevoice spam

Spam filtering catches calls, voicemails text messages.

Combined with the Call Screening feature the Global Spam Filtering, my Voice number provides me with a powerful set of tools that is analogous to an incoming call firewall.

To learn more about Voice its abilities, check out the product videos located here.