I first obtained a Google Voice number back on December 18, 2007 - back then it was still GrandCentral Communications but had been acquired by Google earlier in the year. I did it partly for the novelty and partly because I could get email notifications with attached voicemails.
The utility of this number has only grown over time. My house is in an AT&T dead zone and for various reasons (work-related) I've been chained to AT&T on my BlackBerry and then iPhone for 10 years. I can get a bar or two of reception if I go upstairs to the bonus room by the window. No chance that I can take or make calls from my home office. Google Voice solves this issue for me - more on that below.
Here are some ways that I use Google Voice:
- Voice Memos - I have a special Google Voice rule I setup to short-circuit my usual voicemail greeting so that I can quickly record a memo for myself. It then shows up in my email inbox, perfect for later GTD processing.
- Compensate for AT&T - I have Google Voice setup to ring my desk phone at the office during normal business hours, and my home phone number at night. For conference calls that I take in my home office I increasingly use the integrated voice chat integrated with Gmail. When I call numbers from voice chat it shows my Google Voice number on caller ID.
- Do Not Disturb - I can easily send all calls immediately to voicemail, handy when I don't want to be disturbed for a while.
- Saves me from having another phone line at home - Another benefit of Google Voice plus the integrated voice chat (I could use Skype in the same way) is that I don't tie up our landline at home when I need to make business calls.
- SMS texting from the desktop - SMS is how I often communicate with Jacob and Matthew, and having these text messages flow to email make it easy to reply quickly. Especially when I'm at home and the texts won't even arrive at my iPhone.