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Google Voice Now Works WIth Existing Mobile Numbers 164

Posted by timothy
from the me-talk-garbly-one-day dept.
IP-192.com was one of several readers to note that Google Voice users can now utilize their existing mobile phone number for collecting voice messages instead of applying for a Google Voice number. From the post at the Google Voice blog: "Up until now, if you wanted to use Google Voice, you needed to choose a new number. Taking calls through your Google number allows us to offer features like call recording, call screening and getting text messages via email." Not all features (like conference calling) are available to those bringing their own number, but voice messages by email is my favorite feature.
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Google Voice Now Works WIth Existing Mobile Numbers

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  • Still US-only? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alexo (9335) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:11PM (#29885761) Journal

    Wake me up when Google voice is available outside the US.

    • Yup. (Score:5, Funny)

      by denzacar (181829) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:16PM (#29885835) Journal

      From TFA:

      Setup Issues: Phone carrier not listed in setup

      As of now we only officially support the following carriers listed on our site (Alltel, AT&T, Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon).
      We are working on extending the support to more carriers soon.

      Internet, just like UFO and Elvis sightings - only available in America.

      • Re:Yup. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LMacG (118321) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:23PM (#29885955) Journal

        Nobody should ever release anything that doesn't instantly work worldwide! Especially when it's free!!

        • by alexo (9335)

          Nobody should ever release anything that doesn't instantly work worldwide! Especially when it's free!!

          You seem to have missed the point entirely.
          My post was not a criticism of Google. I am happy for you and the other US residents that can use Google Voice (for free, as you have mentioned) but it is a bit hard for me to get excited about the technology when I personally cannot use it. So if you have any information about when it will be available in, say, Canada, I will thank you for it (once you wake me up

        • It used to work (Score:4, Interesting)

          by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot@NospAm.keirstead.org> on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @02:33PM (#29887791) Homepage

          The thing is, GrandCentral used to work in Canada, before Google bought it.

          When Google bought it, for some reason they shut down all the Canadian numbers.

    • I use it outside the US. It's the first service I've found that can give me free incoming SMSes. I have them processed by my mail server to perform certain actions, as well as being forwarded to my non-US phone.
  • How it works (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So, Google can now be set to be the termination point for your voicemails for your mobile, that is, you configure your mobile phone to call their voicemail gateway instead of your providers. Spiffy, though visual voicemail on the iPhone is a tad better interface, at least until there is another google voice app for the iPhone...

    • by spuke4000 (587845)
      I gotta say that Google Voice is way better than the iPhone's visual vmail. They're really different things: google transcribes your voice mail and SMS or emails them to you (among lots of other things). Visual vmail just shows you who called you without having to dial in.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I have had Google Voice for about a year, and an visual voice mail for two, and I don't know that I'd say one is necessarily 'better' than the other because, as you point out, they are two different things. Like asking if a hamburger is better than a fishing pole.

        I use visual voice mail most all the time, and only read GV's voice-to-text when I'm somewhere I don't have a cell signal. But it is nice to have both.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Visual vmail just shows you who called you without having to dial in.

        Hell, my $100 phone will do that. I look at the list of missed calls, that's who left a voice mail.

        • With Verizon, if your phone doesn't ring because it's off or out of service and someone doesn't leave you a voicemail, that person may as well have never called you. Niether the phone, the network, nor the voicemail system has anything or indicate otherwise.

          I've been using Callwave [callwave.com] for well over a year now, because it lets me take/screen/callback missed calls on my computer, sends me emails (with transcriptions) with voicemails attached, and so on.

          I've been eyeballing Google Voice for quite a long time n
          • With Verizon, if your phone doesn't ring because it's off or out of service and someone doesn't leave you a voicemail, that person may as well have never called you. Niether the phone, the network, nor the voicemail system has anything or indicate otherwise.

            With my carrier, I can optionally activate (and I have done so) "missed call notification", wherein I receive an SMS notifying me about any calls that I happened to miss because the phone was off or I was out of range. It's completely free, including the

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Well, that would apply, except I never shut my phone off. If I don't want to be bothered I just set the ringer to "silent". The Google offering does have some features to tempt me, though. Especially at their price point!

            • by RulerOf (975607)
              Alas, here in the basement, the phone not ringing is a rather frequent occurrence. :-P
              • by mcgrew (92797) *

                Well, your battery ought to last a long time then!

                • by RulerOf (975607)
                  hahaha.

                  You might think so, but alas, since the signal is lower, the phone has to use more power to keep itself going. I keep it docked in a charger when I'm at my desk (including right now :P).
      • This message as translated by Google Voice:

        I shot a gay that oogled Morice. Is may better than iTone visual female? Bear real lee different tings. Google transcribes you're choice tail and sms or ails him to shoe (a mung lo savanna swings). Usual gmail trusts ows ewe who call dew without having to smile him.

        Yeah, but after a while you can decipher it.

        • I've never had one that was that bad. Maybe you just need fewer retarded friends.

          • I got a GV translation that just said, "com com com com com". When I actually listened to the voicemail, it turned out to be a fax machine calling me.
      • by jo42 (227475)

        google transcribes your voice mail

        AKA "wire taps".

        • google transcribes your voice mail

          AKA "wire taps".

          Clearly you haven't actually read any of the transcriptions...

          For those who don't use the service, the results are a bit like playing Mad Libs [wikipedia.org]. Often useful but I have yet to see a transcription without some key words wrongly transcribed. It's especially bad at names. I'm also reminded of the handwriting "recognition" on early Apple Newtons. Granted, it's free so I'm hardly going to complain but the technology has a way to go.

        • Pretty sure Google's business model on this is obvious, and not terribly suspicious. Perform speech recognition on voicemail, convert to text, insert contextual ads. Allow outgoing calls @ a fee for additional revenue.

          but seriously, that tinfoil hat looks good on you.
    • Halfway there. Now I need to set gvoice to be the termination point for my landline voicemails and I'll be all set.

      • by michrech (468134)

        After having just looked at it, it appears to just "call forward" to your Google Voice account. At least for Sprint (the carrier I use), it called it "conditional" call forwarding -- for busy signals or unanswered calls (otherwise calls to your mobile number ring as normal). The instructions also said Sprint won't support conditional call forwarding 'till mid-November, so if you were to enable it now, you might get charged (most likely just minutes usage) 'till they have that support in place.

        It's actuall

    • by metamatic (202216)

      Spiffy, though visual voicemail on the iPhone is a tad better interface, at least until there is another google voice app for the iPhone...

      Which is exactly why Apple won't allow a good Google Voice app on the iPhone [cnet.com].

    • Though not a cellular service, Vonage has great features like this. It emails a notification of voicemail, and I have a filter set up to forward the message to my cel phone. When I'm overseas, I bring my VOIP adapter along, patch it through my laptop as a wi-fi gateway, and I have my home phone with me, including calls to and from North America at no extra charge.

      One place I stayed for a week had no wi-fi, but some nearby moron was kind enough to leave their access point unsecured. Free overseas calling

  • Available in the US? Still waiting for a number in a Hawaii area code...
  • Oh wow! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:15PM (#29885827)

    Now google allows you to do what the government has been doing for you for the past 5 years! Now your government mobile history is inextricably tied to your online activity!

  • I would have been all over this but for the fact that my Blackberry Tour now has Visual Voicemail much like many Blackberries these days as well as the iPhone.

    Does anyone with an iPhone or visual voicemail-enabled phone see value in this? I like the transcription feature but it's not a game changer.

    • by MrEricSir (398214)

      How about the ability to redirect your phone number to a different phone (or multiple phones)?

      • by Drathos (1092)

        That feature isn't available when using your own number, only when using a number assigned to you from Google.

    • Well, it is free, so it doesn't need much in the way of value to justify getting it.

      I use it when I am somewhere I can't get a cell signal on my iphone, or where I get the 'visual voicemail is not available' message. Wading through ATT's prompt based voice mail menu system is not something I have the patience for any longer. So I read the GV messages via wifi or the like.

    • Re:Visual Voicemail (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SpinyNorman (33776) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:38PM (#29886131)

      It's not just visual voicemail (with automatic transciptions - read your voicemail if you want/need to be quiet) - that's just one feature.

      The main feature of Google Voice, IMO, is that your Google Voice number is really YOUR number, not the number of a particular location/device. Via the web you can program what phone(s) - zero or more - ring when someone calls your GV number and you can pick up the call on any device. If you like all your calls can go direct to voicemail and you'll then pick them up either by phone or on the web.

      The use of this is that you don't need to notify anyone if you go on vactation, change job, lose your cell phone, or whatever - they always call you at your GV number, and you choose where to pick the call up (maybe just at an internet cafe via the visual voicemail).

      • by Yez70 (924200)
        It's also great with services like My Circle where you get 10 free phone numbers on your cell plan. Add your Google Voice number, tell Google Voice to display the Voice Caller ID rather than the caller and have Google Voice forward all calls to your cell. Unlimited free incoming calls....
  • Missing Features (Score:5, Informative)

    by dijjnn (227302) <bwthomas@@@cs...uchicago...edu> on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @12:32PM (#29886077)

    From TFA:

    More specifically, if you sign up for Google Voice with your existing number, you'll get:

            * Online, searchable voicemail
            * Free automated voicemail transcription
            * Custom voicemail greetings for different callers
            * Email and SMS notifications
            * Low-priced international calling

    If you decide to also get a new Google number, you'll get all of the above PLUS:

            * One number that reaches you on all your phones
            * SMS via email
            * Call screening
            * Listen In
            * Call recording
            * Conference calling
            * Call blocking

    So, you don't get all the features if you port in an existing number. How ... lame. Completely killed my interest in this most recent development.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Patik (584959)

      So, you don't get all the features if you port in an existing number. How ... lame. Completely killed my interest in this most recent development.

      There's really no point to this new option -- it's just a stripped down 'lite' version of the existing service aimed at drawing in people who were scared off by the "you'll have to change your phone number" nonsense. There's absolutely no reason to choose this option when you sign up. If all you want are the voicemail features, sign up for a "full" account (with a new number), then add your existing phone and switch on voicemail handling. That's it.

      Actually, this new option is even worse: once you set it u

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SoCalChris (573049)

        There's really no point to this new option -- it's just a stripped down 'lite' version of the existing service aimed at drawing in people who were scared off by the "you'll have to change your phone number" nonsense. There's absolutely no reason to choose this option when you sign up. If all you want are the voicemail features, sign up for a "full" account (with a new number), then add your existing phone and switch on voicemail handling. That's it.

        It would be stupid to sign up for the "lite" version of this instead of the full version. But being able to forward my existing cell phone # to use google voice for voicemail is huge to me. I no longer have to wade through Verizon's crappy voicemail system (Which has no way of deleting all new messages - I get a ton of spam messages).

        Actually, this new option is even worse: once you set it up, you can't go back to your carrier's voicemail system. You're stuck with Google's whether you like it or not.

        Maybe it's not enabled for all carriers, but I've got an option on my settings page to revert back to using Verizon's voicemail if I like.

        • For months I've had Google Voice set to Do Not Distrub and had my Verizon voicemail forwarded over to it (*-something my google number). I guess this eliminates the extra rings?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by metaomni (667105)
        "Actually, this new option is even worse: once you set it up, you can't go back to your carrier's voicemail system. You're stuck with Google's whether you like it or not."

        Umm, you can revert your forwarding back to your carrier's voicemail. They'll even tell you how.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by tjb627 (1443659)
      All this is doing is forwarding your phone call to Google's voicemail instead of your own. This is nothing new, I've been doing this for weeks.
    • I don't think it's actual porting so much as just some background forwarding of voicemail messages; at least, I had a "new Google number", and the changes allowed me to set up my normal cell number like that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by herksc (1447137)
      Actually, there is no "port" involved here, really. This is essentially just setting up your carrier to forward calls on no-answer/busy to your google voicemail.
    • Re:Missing Features (Score:4, Informative)

      by Nerdposeur (910128) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @01:32PM (#29886883) Journal

      So, you don't get all the features if you port in an existing number. How ... lame. Completely killed my interest in this most recent development.

      You're missing something. I already have a GV account. If you call my special GV number, I get the full feature list. Now I get that, PLUS I can click to add the "Lite" version to my actual cell number.

      That means that if you call my cell directly, I can still send you to GV voicemail, with the "Lite" feature set.

      As they say:

      If you already have a Google number, this new feature should also help with the transition to your new number, as you can now forward unanswered calls to your mobile phone to your Google Voice account. This way, people who still call your old number will reach the same voicemail as people who call your Google Voice number. If you already use Google Voice, you can add Google voicemail to any mobile phone you've linked to your account.

  • I was pretty excited when I saw this, but then with a little more digging it looks like if you're on Sprint, you'll get a minimum 20 cent charge per voicemail (20 cents per minute call forwarding [sprintpcs.com]). Some people are saying Sprint has or is about to do away with this fee, but I haven't seen anything definite.

    If I'm mistaken PLEASE correct me (and supply a link showing that the fee isn't around anymore), but for now I guess I'll be passing on this :(

    • by ZeroPly (881915)

      This is incorrect. The charge is if you forward your Sprint number to another number, not the other way around. I use Sprint and Google Voice, and have never had an extra charge from Sprint. The only number I give out is the Google Voice number, my phone is set to not even ring if a call comes in to the Sprint number - the caller just gets a voicemail telling them to call the Voice number instead.

      • by NiteShaed (315799)

        That's not what this new feature is though. If you sign up to use your existing cell number, you forward the call *from* your cell phone *to* Google Voice to land the voicemail on their system instead of your own. It's very cool, and gets you out of Sprint's garbage voicemail system, but unfortunately Sprint does seem to still charge 20 cents/min for call forwarding.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by dillpick6 (699618)
      I can confirm that Sprint is still charging (at least in the New England area).

      A friend turned it on for his phone and sent a test message, successfully made it through, and was transcribed to his email. We did notice that there are an extra few rings before VM picks up because Sprint is forwarding on to the new number.

      After a while, the charges did show up in his account on sprints website at 20 cents a pop.

      Hope this helps!
    • Well, I just called Sprint, and the rep says the 20 cent/min forwarding charge is definitely still in effect, and he had no information on it being repealed. Hopefully they're planning on doing it soon, which is what Google Voice is saying when you activate the service.

    • by tobiasly (524456)
      This is the warning I got when trying to activate my Sprint phone for this feature: https://www.google.com/voice/voice/sprint [google.com] They say Sprint will drop the charge in "mid-November 2009". So, um, real soon now.
  • One possible drawback is that if you have your mobile's VM forwarded to Google's VM, your mobile phone will only show a missed call and not a new VM.
    • by fugspit (632645)
      Unless you are running the google voice app on you phone, In which case you get a nice nice little "you have a new voice mail popup"

      If your phone is incapable of running the Google Voice app (e.g. iPhone) you can set it up to email or sms you when a new voice mail arrives.

      • For my EnV Touch, I guess an SMS notifier would be the best solution, as I have to make a trip to the mobile web to check email..
  • No new subscribers (Score:3, Informative)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday October 27, 2009 @01:05PM (#29886521)

    The news sounds exciting, but from everything I'm gathering anybody who's not already using Google Voice can't signup at the moment. The site says it's only available to Grand Central users, and that doesn't appear to be open for signup right now either.

    As someone who's still using the ancient call the system and keep pressing next to skip messages I want to keep system, I'd happily switch over to this (hell I'd even pay a bit for it - between Gmail, Reader, Picasa, Google Apps, and this, I'd certainly be willing to pay for my Google account - not more than $10-ish per month, but still).

  • Heck, I would even pay a small monthly fee, maybe a buck or two a month to port my existing cell phone number. This is a number I have had since cell phones became popular. I would gladly port it, cancel my current Verizon phone, and then shop for the best plan out there regardless of carrier. Google voice would free me to have a device and plan morph with the changes in my lifestyle over time.

    • by swb (14022)

      Amen. Voicemail forwarding is a hack.

      For those of us who have had real phone numbers for a long time (my cell number dates back over 10 years), Google Voice is gee-whiz neat, but I'm not going to send out a whole new number to people who already *have* my cell number, so it really limits its functionality.

      Porting my cell number to Google Voice and then giving my cell number a new throwaway number makes much more sense.

      The problem is, this is a 'beta' service -- when will it go non-beta and can we count on

  • It effectively already did this, at least on any handset/provider that lets you specify the forward number for unanswered calls. I put my GV number in as that number, and configured GV to go straight to voicemail. Combined with the GV app for android, I get a nice visual voicemail like interface along with transcription.

    How is what google is promoting at all new?

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      Automates the process for those who don't even know such a feature existed? Google has gained a great deal of notoriety for making things just, well, simple.

  • On GSM phones, just dial *002*# and all your unanswered calls will go to your google voice account. Of course Google likely uses this technique, but has some added logic to make it so that Google Voice will not forward back to your cell phone if the call is being forwarded from your cell phone in the first place. I can't find any details on how Google does it, but it has to be done with the forwarding mechanisms already offered by providers.

    A downside to all this is that forwarding uses up your airtime.

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