5 Reasons You Should Use Google Voice

Last Updated Jun 28, 2010 9:07 AM EDT

You might have noticed that Google has torn away the "by invitation only" tape from around its phone service -- you can now sign up for Google Voice without an invite or knowing someone who already has it.

That's great, as far as it goes, but a lot of people are still pretty confused about Google Voice. (Not as confused as they are by Google Wave, mind you, but that's a whole different category of fail.)

The question is this, really: Why should you care about Google Voice? Does it offer any business advantages that makes it worth changing your phone number? Here are five reasons to consider making the switch.

Get your voice mail as e-mail. For me, this is the number one reason to consider Google Voice. Frequently, it's inconvenient to listen to a voice mail. But I can always take a moment to read a message that's been transcribed to text.

Send yourself voice messages - as text. Of course, if your VM arrives in your e-mail inbox, that means you can leave yourself a quick voice mail and get it transcribed, for free, into a reminder e-mail. It's like having your own administrative assistant.

Calls follow you anywhere. You can direct Google Voice to ring every phone you have every time you get a call, so you can easily stay in contact with the world even if you're frequently on the go. Working from home today? On the road? In the office? Not a problem. One number reaches you anywhere.

Don't be disturbed. Likewise, you can set Google Voice to not ring your phone while you work, or perhaps when you're done with work. Calls go automatically to voice mail, where they are transcribed to text messages. It's like the circle of life.

Record your calls. As a journalist, I sometimes need to record interviews. I can do that as easily pressing 4, and the call is saved without any complicated software or gadgets.