Earlier I wrote about three phone alternatives to a landline that can save you money and reader Lore suggested Gmail Voice. I am a Google fan and can’t believe I didn’t mention the company’s phone feature, which you can access through Gmail and Google Talk.
Google Talk is a free Windows and web-based application for instant messaging that also allows you to make calls to others with Google Talk only. Google Voice is a free Google Internet service that uses voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to enable users to make and receive calls for free. You don’t have to be at your computer and can call any number. In this post we’ll explore how using Google Voice can cut down your phone bill.
Google Voice is similar to Skype in that it enables you to make a call and video chat. To make calls you will need a Gmail or Talk account (signing up is free). To video chat, you will need to download Google’s video plug-in, have a working microphone and speakers.
To start, open Gmail or Talk and look in your chat list for “call phone.” When you click the button, a number pad pops up. Dial a number or enter the name of someone in your contact list to call them.
Google Voice lets you make calls to landlines and mobile phones in the U.S. and Canada for free. International calls start at $.02 per minute.
You will be able to receive calls if you have a Google Voice account. The account is free and all you have to do is pick out a phone number. The number will be display in others’ caller IDs when you make a call. You can set up the account to forward calls to another number and also set up a voicemail.
The sound quality for outgoing calls is better than I expected. It actually sounds better than making calls on my cell phone when I have little reception. The only drawbacks that I could find is that Google Voice is not able to place or receive emergency calls and if you didn’t reserve a number in your city when this featured rolled out, then you’re out of luck. I tried making a Google Voice account but there weren’t any Los Angeles phone numbers available. To learn more about the cost of replacing your landline with other VOIP services, check out Bargain Babe’s take on the subject.