Saturday, June 26, 2010

Google Voice

Last week my tech obsession was the Four Square App for my Droid; this week: Google Voice.

I am so excited about this new tool and want to gush about it, but each time I begin to write this blog entry I wind up sounding like a radio advertisement. I apologize in advance for my abounding excitement: you have been warned.

Google Voice is a tool that allows anyone, for free, to consolidate multiple phone numbers to one master number. There are a lot of ways to already do this, but here is where Google really steps it up a notch: this master number then is linked your Google account so you can listen to your messages online. Oh, and you can listen to them as they are being left. And you can get your voice mails in text form. And you can block numbers. And you make calls or send texts from the online account. And I am sure there are even more fun features evading this newbie!

...I told you I was going to sound a bit like a commercial! Actually, I think this exactly the message Google generates when you sign up your account. (I promise, I'm not collecting any royalties from this entry.)

The only thing that was difficult for me when I was setting up my new account was picking a new number. I'm not bound to distributing my new phone number, but I now have the option. I have had the same exact phone number since I was 16 years old. The number carries with it a bit of nostalgia. I can remember receiving the phone on my 16th birthday, and excitedly passing notes with friends the following day in school with my very own, personal cell phone number. (Back then, the only differentiator between phones was whether or not your phone had the game "snake" on it.) Even though I had no text messaging plan and I predominately still relied on my family's land line to catch up with friends, my personal number has been mine.

Having the Google Voice number now will just allow me to take on multiple numbers (should they accumulate for any reason) or keep fluid transition with friends if I ever do need to change numbers with my mobile carrier. The online features are also convenient, though ironic: the cell phone is a tool to allow you to go about your day yet stay connected with others. Generally, when we are in front of a lap top or computer of any sort, we could feasibly access a phone; however, I do admit that I'm guilty of waiting until my phone battery completely crashes before I plug it in to a charger, and the extra option is reassuring.

I was able to personally select my new "master" number from a list generated off of my current address. (Though I could have technically selected anywhere in the world if I had wanted to.) I don't dwell too much on my number, aside from the fact that it's been uniform for seven years, but I did spent considerable time picking it out. A number has no personalization to it, and aside from honing in on one that was easy to remember, I thought I wouldn't have much preference. But somehow, as I glanced through the list, I felt like this new number was going to define me in some way. It was going to become a part of my life, and I wanted to make sure that it was I'd feel confident rolling off to new acquaintenances.

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