I have been with Google a long time, but I am new to Google Voice. Like Google Wave I had a lot of trouble getting invited to use the service. I begged for an invite all across the internet using twitter, facebook, and personal confrontation. I requested a voice invite twice using the official site link. I think what finally got me invited to these services was actually on the Google Wave official invite page here. Where I wrote a lengthy message to the Wave Team about how it's upsetting that I can be with Google from the beginning, always give feedback, and can't get a invite to Wave or Voice to save my life! However, my dad a loyal Microsoft devotee gets a voice invite simply by purchasing a Droid phone.
A week later I got an invite to Google Wave, and a few days after that I was invited to Google Voice! I think the key is to express to the development team how bad you want invited and promise to give feedback. Neither of these services would survive if made public, they are just not ready to handle it.
Right away I was disappointed while setting up my Voice account. They do not offer numbers in my area code, rural Nebraska. They promise to soon have 308 numbers and I am sure that is coming. With a $10 fee I will be able to change my number at a later date. For now I have my Google Voice number set-up in the 402 area code. In fact my number is: 402-500-0705. The ability to safely, and publicly, give out your phone number is one of the best features of Google Voice. You can choose how to deal with incoming calls, and my account is set to forward calls not on my contact list to voice mail. So fell free to call and leave me a message, however, my phone will not ring. Another great way to handle calls from Non-Contacts is to screen them. Yes, Google Voice can screen your calls, asking the caller their name and notifying you. Then you can send the call to voice mail or accept it.
The feature I was most excited to try was the voice mail with transcription. Before Google Voice I had been thinking it would be nice to have Verizon's visual voice mail. This way you don't have to call your own number and enter a password to listen to messages. You can see who the message is from and play it without calling. Now with Google Voice my voice mail is just like visual voice mail, except better! Imagine being at work and simply reading your voice mail, while in that boring meeting.
The transcription feature is still a work in progress. It might give you an idea of what the message is about. It is not perfect, but think about how people leave voice messages. They use run on sentences and they um...well...you know...mumble. We all do it. What follows is a perfect example.
Google voice transcription:
Hey it's Lisa, I just wanted to call and tell you is day. They did told on a car out and they are. Give me a leave stay friends going to be purchasing the car in the next seeing the sales. Yeah, that's all. I hope you have a good day, thanks. Yes
Hey it's Alicia. I just wanted to call and tell you that um... they did total the car out. And they are um gonna be... State Farm's gonna be purchasing the car in the next 10 days, so... ya. That's all. Hope you have a good day. Bye.
As you can imagine when I read the message before playing it back, I thought WTH. I knew she was going to be calling with information about a car, but the transcription really gave me no idea about the content of the message. When you listen to it, then you can't really blame Google Voice. I feel the technology of Google's Voice recognition is probably the best in the world. This is because of their awesome 1-800-GOOG-411 number. They have been analyzing peoples voices for years now. The problem is simple, people don't expect to be analyzed and transcribed by a computer when leaving a simple voice mail. The service will become a lot more useful as people realize this.
Another neat feature is the ability to make widgets that link to your Google Voice account. They can be customized, this one will alway be forwarded to voice mail. I am looking for more samples to use on a later post to discuss in more depth Google Voice's transcription.
Please leave me a short message, it could be featured on a later post about Google Voice.
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