Google Voice is a communication service that allows users to make and receive voice calls and text messages over the internet. It utilizes Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to transmit these communications, so a stable internet connection is required to use the service.
One of the main advantages of Google Voice is that you get a number almost instantly and can route calls to multiple contacts with the flip of a toggle. Plus, the pricing is competitive, making it an affordable choice for individuals and businesses.
Whether you have a top-of-the-line Android phone or an iPhone or prefer to use Google Voice on your laptop, this comprehensive guide gives you all the information you need to get started with the tech giant’s communication tool.
To use the Google Voice features, you must have a Google account and an existing U.S. phone number.
How to set up Google Voice on a PC
Setting up Google Voice on a PC for the first time is simple. Here’s a rundown:
- Visit the Google Voice website at voice.google.com.
- Click the Sign-in button in the upper-right corner of the display to log in to your Google account.
- Accept the terms and services. You’re prompted to select a Google Voice number.
- Select your state code, and choose a phone number from the list of options.
- Verify your existing number, which will be linked to the Google Voice account. You’ll receive a text code to complete the verification.
- Tap Claim and then select Finish to take control of the number officially.
How to set up Google Voice on a phone
Google voice works on both iPhones and Android devices. To use it:
- Download and launch the Google Voice app from the Google Play Store for Android or the App Store for iPhone.
- Select the Google account you want to log in with using the drop-down arrow on the right.
- Tap the Continue as (name) button at the bottom of the screen. A welcome banner displays.
- Tap Continue in the lower-right corner of the display. You’re prompted to select a Google Voice number.
- Tap Search in the lower-right corner of the screen.
- Choose a location.
- Select a Google Voice number from the list.
- Tap Accept number in the lower-right corner of the screen.
- Tap Next and grant Voice permission to make and manage phone calls.
- Enter the phone number you want to connect to your Google Voice number.
- Enter the verification code texted to your phone and select Verify.
- Tap Claim to confirm the linkage, and then tap Finish.
How to use Google Voice
The Google Voice experience is like using your default Android phone app but with more flexibility. Like the phone app, you can make calls from the Calls tab by typing the number or selecting one from your address book, if you granted the necessary permissions. You can also link your Google Voice line to your mobile number. And when someone calls, you’ll know the exact line they’re buzzing.
When initiating calls, you can display your Google Voice number instead of your mobile number, on the person’s caller ID. You can also set the number to ring to multiple devices for corporate settings where several people may be licensed to answer the company’s line. For individuals with multiple numbers (such as a home landline, business phone, and personal smartphone), it merges the communication channels, so you don’t have to bounce between numbers and devices constantly.
You can set up and receive voicemails, just like your U.S. carrier, via the app and have a transcript and a recording sent to your email. There’s also a Messages tab for sending and receiving texts through the app using Wi-Fi or cellular data. Messages to U.S. or Canadian residents are free. However, your mobile phone company may charge extra roaming fees to contact people outside the U.S. or when Wi-Fi is disconnected.
How much does Google Voice cost?
For the most part, Google Voice is free to install and use, provided you communicate with U.S. and Canadian numbers using your Google Voice number. However, calls to certain remote locations in either country may cost a token of one cent per minute. While Google Voice is mostly free, as with several of Google’s software products, it’s worth noting that the tech giant makes most of its money through advertising and not through fees and subscriptions. In other words, you’re pretty much paying with your data anyway.
Calls made anywhere else cost money, with per-minute rates that vary between countries that are subject to change. However, the fees are minimal for most regions, costing only a couple of cents per minute. If you plan to call a foreign location, check Google’s handy tool for call rates and ensure you have sufficient credit in your account for the calls to go through.
Use Google Voice to unify all your lines
Google Voice offers a range of useful features, including the ability to forward calls to multiple phone lines, which can be particularly useful for individuals and companies. However, the service is currently only available to users with a U.S. phone number.
If you are located outside the U.S., you’re out of luck, as there’s no other way to activate Google Voice. Meanwhile, if you’re based in the States and looking for alternative call forwarding options, check out our guide on forwarding calls on U.S. carriers.