On Thursday I left my phone on the nightstand. After sharing this fact with friends a few wished me the comfort of a phone-free day but the rest realized how much I depend on my smartphone -- because they do too.
To compound matters I have multiple points of contact that I cannot miss calls from. On top of a day job I have 37 students who could call me for a class question, two interviews to be done and countless other tasks which require me to be reachable at one place.
Thanks to Google Voice, an invite only phone service from Google, I didn't miss a single call. While I still felt like there was a hole in my pocket I was always in the loop, even when I was out and about; and I didn't have to forward phones, send out e-mails requesting that people contact me on a new number or e-mail me, explaining that I had absentmindedly left my lifeline at home on the nightstand. All I had to do was update my Google Voice settings.
Google Voice is a cool service from Google that lets you pick one number that will ring all of your phones. But that's not all. You can make Google Voice ring any phone within reach by adding it to your account, which means you'll never be without reception or the ability to receive a phone call.
When I was at my desk I was able to direct all calls to the number my family, students, pr contacts and co-workers know to my desk phone and then later to my wife's cell phone. Couple that with call recording, voice-mail management (including voice-mail transcription) and the ability to customize what happens when a certain group calls and you really have a winner!
For example, I can leave my ringer on and send all phone calls from students to voice-mail after 10 p.m., without affecting my ability to stay in touch with friends and family.
In the end I was able to get through my day, with more phone calls than normal, without my phone. No one, including the people interviewed, had any idea they were talking to me on my wife's bright pink Droid Eris!
Google Voice is the best telephone service I've ever used and it is as close as I can get to really owning my cell phone number since I control what phone it rings to and don't have to port it if I leave my cell phone company.
You can connect your new Google Number to any phone number whether it's an iPhone or a landline, so long as you can answer it once to verify, you can use it with Google Voice.
Getting access to Google Voice is a bit tricky since it is invite only but if you ask around at work or on your social networks you should be able to find an invite without too much trouble, though it may cost you lunch.
If you come up dry at work you can always look for a Google Voice invite on eBay where they sell for as low as 99 cents.
How Google Voice saved the day