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October 27, 2009

Google Voice without the Google number

Posted: 10:10 AM ET

Google's phone service prides itself on simplicity. You get a Google phone number and then Google Voice forwards calls to your Google number to your home, office or mobile phone.

One number. One business card. Pretty simple.

But that approach creates another issue: To use Google Voice, you had to change your number.

On Tuesday, Google announced on its blog that that's not the case anymore. You can sign up for Google Voice with most any number you choose. One of the biggest advantages is that Google will - for free - transcribe your voicemail so you can read it online or in text messages. That way you don't have to listen to ramble-on info when all you want is the call-back number.

Here's a video that explains how Google Voicemail works.

There are still a few catches, though. The first is that you can't access all of Google Voice's features when you're using a non-Google number. That means you can't have calls forwarded from that number to other phones. And, for now, Google Voice is available by invitation only.

What do you think? Is Google Voice without the Google number useful? Do you think this will catch on in a big way? Let us know in the comments below.

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Filed under: Google • Google Voice • mobile phones

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Wes Finley-Price   October 27th, 2009 11:43 am ET

I have been using Google Voice for around a month. The features it provides are useful, but its greatest achievement is wrenching control of telephone numbers away from telecoms and returning it to consumers.

With a Google Voice number you don't need to pay for services like SMS, three-way calling, call forwarding, etc. These features have always cost your wireless provider nothing, but they charged you because you had no other option.

khamsouk   October 27th, 2009 1:19 pm ET

google voice is the coolest thing ever invented! can't wait for wave!!!

Chris   October 27th, 2009 1:31 pm ET

Great improvement... I love watching technologies like this evolve. Telephone companies will soon be a thing of the past. There will only be wireless data service providers (that anything will connect to).

Kevin Thompson   October 27th, 2009 1:33 pm ET

Over the past 9 years I have had around 10 cell phones. I have moved around 4 times (being in college) and have had about 4 jobs. That is 18 different phone numbers I had.

With Google Voice, you get 1 phone number. With that phone number, someone can call you and then that call will get forwarded to the numbers you choose. So if we change cell carriers or get a different phone number, no one will know it.

Also, if someone calls you and you don't want them to EVER call you again. You can go into the control panel and block their call from getting to you. They will hear, "We are sorry, but the number you dialed is not in service..."

This is genius!

I have had Google Voice ever since they bought out and I love it!

Everyone withe more that one number in their household needs this.

David Johnson   October 27th, 2009 1:40 pm ET

What would be ideal is the ability to obtain a Google number and to also be able to register your personal number. You could then use your Google number for contact who you don't wish to know your personal number such as contractors and marketing companies and to be able to forward this to your personal number.

Call forwarded to the personal number along with direct calls that go to voicemail are transcribed.

Michael Hsu   October 27th, 2009 1:59 pm ET

Unfortunately, most of your privacy protections (against wiretapping, eavesdropping) with telephone companies are not enforceable with Google Voice. Also, google is EVIL (out to destroy your privacy with their massive database on your personal habits – which google sells to others without any compensation to you).

tradewinds780   October 27th, 2009 2:01 pm ET

I have been using Google voice for over a year back when it was Grand Central. It allows me to pick up my calls from any land line, cell phone or computer in the US and allows me to call anywhere in the world for a small fee.

All my messages are transcribed and emailed to me and I can transfer the call to a different phone in the middle of the conversation. I has taken time to get people used to using my Google number but now that they are using it I am have canceled all the extra services on my land line.

lennon   October 27th, 2009 2:11 pm ET

John Lennon is god

GFan   October 27th, 2009 2:35 pm ET

I had been trying to 'use' it since a month but havent found a compelling scenario other than call forwarding. I think Google has lost its track and is just trying random things.

Dan Ribble   October 27th, 2009 2:47 pm ET

How do I get an Invite?

Jeff   October 27th, 2009 3:37 pm ET

Simply put, Google Voice ROCKS! To be able to hand out 1 phone number, and be accessible anywhere, any time, and to schedule your forwarding is simply awesome. Not to mention the SMS and texting features or the transcribing of vm. Just wonder what's next...

Joshua Jacobsen   October 27th, 2009 3:40 pm ET

I have been using Google Voice for a few weeks, now. It's a nice evolution of phone service in several ways, but I really love the fact that I can be disloyal to cellphone carriers - companies that truly deserve no loyalty from any consumer. My free google number isn't tied to a particular phone service, so I can change phones and numbers at will without confusing my friends and family.

It's no mystery that cellphone contracts are unlawful in many countries - particularly Europe - where people are more alarmed by anti-competitive and anti-consumer behavior. I'd love to see North American consumers start experimenting with smaller cell service providers and churn some of the competition that we need to bring about innovations in telephony.

Marcus Ronaldi   October 27th, 2009 3:56 pm ET

I am a HUGE fan of Google voice.
Often I get long winded messages and at the very end the caller rushes through their phone number.
No more am I sitting trying to figure out the number.

Jason   October 27th, 2009 4:28 pm ET

I am using Google Voice and this can be very useful. I want to thank Google for this product.

miko   October 27th, 2009 4:36 pm ET

can somone please send me an invitation.
my email is

thank you very much .

Robert Hynes   October 27th, 2009 4:40 pm ET

I've used Google Voice for a couple of months, I no longer have to deal with the stupid "red light" on my anitquated desk phone, but all voicemail alerts are now sent to my email. I don't have to sift through voicemail with the phone buttons anymore, it's all visual.

Kamran Khan _ Kami49   October 27th, 2009 4:45 pm ET

I have been using Google Voice over 3 months now. Really great work!!!

Al Karom   October 27th, 2009 5:01 pm ET

I got a Google voice number about a month ago and all I get is about 15-20 calls a day from people I don't know. Google is using newly recycled numbers or something, and when I tried to change to a different number, I'm asked to pay $10. Yea right!

Mark Jeffery Koch   October 27th, 2009 5:06 pm ET

I have used Google Voice for about three weeks now and I like the fact that if I am out of the office and someone is trying to get in touch with me it will ring as many contact numbers as I list in my file such as my home number, cellphone, office number, etc. I also think it's pretty cool that the voice mail is transcribed into words on my computer as well as my cellphone email when I login to my gmail account. So far, I like Google Voice and plan to use it a lot more frequently in the coming days and weeks.

Gilbert   October 27th, 2009 5:33 pm ET

Cant comment as I await an invitation from Google voice.

jerry   October 27th, 2009 5:33 pm ET

My gvoice# is only one digit off of my home #. I have not given it out yet enmasse, but do like the features it offers. What I use it for more than anything is the FREE LONGDISTANCE! I have not paid for a long distance call in so long!

Unlike Vonage or Magic jack, you only need the net to get your voice mails (they are sent to your email as .txt transcripts or .mp3s). You can actually make the call apart from your computer and receive the calls apart from the computer on your land like or cell.

There really is nothing about this project to fear and so much to gain. It is nice knowing that people I want to talk to can get to me, but EVERYONE ELSE like every credit card representative from INDIA is sent STRAIGHT TO VOICEMAIL where I can delete them with a snicker. What empowerment!

I am soon planning to start a business and this will certainly be a strategic part of saving buttloads of money on telophony!

Kaye Washington NYC   October 27th, 2009 6:20 pm ET

Google Voice is good but I thought it would be Google's answer to Skype which it is not. Its more like a glorified call forwarding service. Albeit a free one. My hope is one day we can eliminate cell providers using VOIP with WIFI enabled handsets (like IPOD Touch) and simply pay for a mobile internet connection such as what Sprint offers with their new MIFI WIFI card. That boys and girls is the future of wireless. Nice try Google, but there is still work to be done.

dave   October 27th, 2009 6:41 pm ET

I have been using Google Voice as an answering machine for a few weeks now. I called my phone company, and requested a change so that after 5 rings, it forwards to my google voice number instead of going to voice mail. If has been great so far. I may eventually have my cell phone do this, but haven't gone that far yet.

Deo   October 27th, 2009 7:12 pm ET

Google voice without a Google number is ok. A subscriber can use his or her name instead of numbers....easy to remember. Please bring GoogleVoice to Canada.

Nic C   October 27th, 2009 7:15 pm ET

This has gotta be put into google wave. its GOT TO. everything must go into google wave... EVERYTHING... and they probably will

iphone   October 27th, 2009 8:37 pm ET

Simply put Google Voice does everything you could ever want in a phone service...but it's free. The option to record calls is priceless. I would pay for this's that good!

superlativetech   October 27th, 2009 9:06 pm ET

Bye Bye Ma Bell. I had the service for 2 weeks now am impressed on how this free service is beneficial. If there was a top 100 free services listed, any Gvoice user would surely vote Gvoice as number 1!

Mark   October 27th, 2009 10:17 pm ET

Google Voice is which the founders stole the concept from RingCentral and are still stealing from RC.
Transporting your number from one service provider to another is not rock science, you already pay for it through "number portability" charges which go to the government managed Neustar.

RingCentral has attracted top VCs and is making money with 8 digit revenues with triple digit growth focusing on business users and have no problem with their iPhone app. While Google Voice is the money losing copycat for the general public, hoping to figure out the right formula to have more influence over how you think, so they can enable marketing people to get into your phone calls. Transcribing means...Google knows what you talk about so they know what you can be suckered into buying. Not sure I want that level of privacy invasion.

Ange   October 27th, 2009 11:06 pm ET

I love Google Voice for my business! We post one contact number on our promotional forms and three people get the transcribed emailed message. The person that it most applies to responds and we don't have to pay for a receptionist!

And my phone carrier thinks that this is a mobile number. Added it to my any mobile list and no minute charges when I call to talk with a co-worker. Great features.

Ali Mohamed   October 28th, 2009 12:13 am ET

Google Voice is the best thing that ever happened in technology industry. Just imagine never missing a call, ever again, that is, if you choose to. Also, imagine sending a call to spam, and never to hear from that caller again..ever!!

This is a revolution in Ma Bell sphere.

Morris   October 28th, 2009 12:23 am ET

At what point and in what way will Google decide to begin making this a profit center? Sell advertising messages to your free number, charge for message units. Somebody has to pay the bill and whomever pays the bill gets a bigger voice in the decision making. Google is not a charity to the world and it is unreasonable to expect them to play that role. Right now it is just 100,000 participants. Who pays for the resources to provide the serrvice to 100 million, 1 billion people?

I think it sounds like a great service, but believe it makes them (at least in part) just another telco, albeit with better features. I will wait until Google announces its plan to fund this great new adventure and then decide wheher to join,

I do hope it succeeds and that other companies can offer the same service so I still have a choice of telcos.

Wendell Cape   October 28th, 2009 6:41 am ET

Can someone email me an invitation. Thanks

Raj   October 28th, 2009 7:12 am ET

@Michael Hsu: Google doesn't compensate you, but how do you compensate Google for the services it provides to you?
@Al Karom: Ask Google to refund the amount of money you paid for the service.

Scott   October 28th, 2009 7:54 am ET

Someone please send me an invite to Google Voice! I'm dying to stick it to my phone carrier... god knows they've been sticking it to me for FAR too many years.

kris   October 28th, 2009 9:48 am ET

Send me an invite, please

kris   October 28th, 2009 9:49 am ET

KC   October 28th, 2009 1:44 pm ET

Can someone send me an invite please? Any help is much appreciated!

Email address is:


Jose   October 28th, 2009 5:42 pm ET

I've been using google voice for awhile and love it... even now more than ever since my friend showed me how to integrate google voice with Gizmo5 to call just about anywhere in the world free of charge! Been talking to my friends in Dubai and Mexico and haven't spent a cent! Google Voice + Gizmo5 = unbelievable!

Anthony   October 29th, 2009 11:45 am ET

i use it and love it. google seems to have a hand in everything these days, they are going to rule the world one day. amoor124 – itis

Henry   October 29th, 2009 5:36 pm ET

Google Voice – Cripple Edition brough to you by AT&T isn't useful enough. The biggest attraction for me in addtion to the message transcription is the phone routing / forwarding features.

I'd move my number to Google Voice account with the full feature rather than the Cripple Edition because AT&T is afraid to offer competive features for it's users.

DIGIJEFF   October 31st, 2009 3:13 am ET

I been using Google voice since it was known as GrandCentral. It's an awesome service and highly recommend everybody to try it. Technology is really taking off and Google is creating a lot of great ideas!

Christine Baker   October 31st, 2009 8:20 am ET

Ya whatever. This sounds like Vonage to me. Nearly 100% of the features have been offered by vonage for years. Not interested in google hearing my personal conversations and inserting ads in my communication.

Robert Robbins   October 31st, 2009 12:19 pm ET

Ive tested and used GrandCentral now Google Voice since its inception , I cannot think of a day with out it , Just keep on bringing the goodies, I think your new concept is great which will open the door for people who have not use Google Voice as tool will want a number down the line.

My biggest wish is for the real G-PHONE TO BE RELEASED so all this ties together..

Your faithful tester on all apps, the difference between men and boys is how many GOOGLE TOYS you have.

Keep up the good work

Ivy   November 1st, 2009 2:55 pm ET

I wouldn't and couldn't say GV is useful or useless.
– I can use it as a bogus number for telemarketers or annoying people I do not like to talk to, essentially use it as a 'fake' number as oppose to giving my real cell/home number without paying for it.
– I can have a recorded conversation transcribed which could be useful for court documents but... (see cons)

– Transcription is essentially useless, what's being said is not exactly what's written, needs a LOT of improvement on the speech recognition.
– In order to call out, GV calls my number first (cell or landline) which means it's not free. I would like to be able to call via my pc directly so I can save some money without using my landline or cell.
– There is no available area code in my area which means the number I have to choose is considered long distance, which means I'm paying for long distance charges/fees.

Ivy   November 1st, 2009 3:33 pm ET

if you want an invite, invite yourself. (I did this for all my gmail accounts and I got all of them). Go to
Even if you do not have a GV, sign in with your Gmail account anyway, it will direct you to a site that enables you to "leave us your email address" with Google. vola! sooner or later you'll get your invite.

Ivy   November 1st, 2009 3:37 pm ET

Or better yet, click on "Request an invite" without logging in your Gmail account.

John B   November 1st, 2009 10:43 pm ET

Really much ado about almost nothing. Screening calls is nothing new, only adds the ability to send them to text. Call forwarding is nothing new, can be done with almost any service now. The only real advantage I see is the ability to send SMS from your phone free which might be great for teens but not much for the rest of us and the ability to have only one phone number no matter how many times you change carriers and service.

Rick T   November 3rd, 2009 5:11 am ET

Google Voice saves you money, Verizon Friends and Family, make google voice # your "Friend", then you get unlimited inbound/outbound calling. In order for this to work you have to get a verizon phone that uses the android platform (IE: Droid Phone!). Install google voice app on the phone, and then when you make a phone call it will call through your google voice #. Caller ID on the other end will see your google voice number as well. Google voice has soo many other neat features, but this one feature I described saves $40/mo. $129.99 unlimited everything, now can be achieved using $89.99 plan.

Mirabella   November 3rd, 2009 9:33 am ET

Gvoice is ok, just ok. Passe` very soon.

And @ most folks above raving about it....what boulder do you guys come from or have been living under ?
Nothing new there regarding features. It's just pretty much a call forwarding service.
Most telco have that claiming it's included "free" in your monthly bills and cell plans...hahaa crock of bull. telcos and this manipulative companies jsut get away w/ it because we have the country of opportunities. It's not really "free".
It's also intrusive.
Technology can be great, but once you know the back-end of how it's done, you won't be happy to know that your privacy is no longer a big concern. That's just how things work in this technological times.
Nothing is free in tech times....not even your freedom of communications.

David   November 6th, 2009 11:37 am ET

Hrmm, with Local Number Portability, I can take my telephone number from my current cell phone carrier to any other carrier. With Verizon Wireless, I'm reachable practically anywhere in the US. The places I don't have cell service (such as in the middle of wilderness areas in national parks, where nobody has coverage), I certainly don't have WiFi or any other form of Internet available.

As for forwarding to my other phones, what other phones? I eliminated my home phone, lake house phone and beach house phone years ago. I have a work Blackberry and a personal Blackberry. I rarely use SMS, usually opting for e-mail instead. I don't give out my work number to friends and I don't give out my personal number to coworkers. The work cell phone gets left on my dresser during the evening and weekends. Google Voice might work well for some, but for me it's pretty much useless.

Heavy user   November 6th, 2009 6:43 pm ET

It's amazing that just one person mentioned the Gizmo5 trick. I also have been using it for the last 5 months and I kicked the phone company good bye. Once you get a google voice number you don't even need to own a real number to use GV. Just use a friend's number for a moment (you have to have that friend's actual phone with you at that moment), and five minutes later, add the Gizmo5 software, follow the instructions, add it to GV, remove your friend's number, and just use it with Gizmo5. Free phone calls everywhere in the US (I didn't try abroad and I believe it won't work for free). Free voicemail (I've had more than 100 messages stored at once and there was room for all of them). Now I only have broadband internet access and I can call anybody I want and pick up the phone if I want to. Also, if I don't know the caller, I just don't pick it up and I can block all calls I want forever.

cmart2009   November 7th, 2009 11:23 am ET

Google voice sounds interesting. I haven't been invited yet, so I'm going on written info I've seen, but pretty much every feature listed I get from Vonage (for $20 a month of course). I have one phone number that rings on my desk at home, in my office, my cell, and my OntStar phone in the car. I have one voice-mail box that I can call in to check the old fashioned way, or check via the web. And I carried my old phone number over when I moved to Vonage a few years ago. I also get e-mail alerts when a voice-mail message is left for me, and can have the message transcribed with the text included in the e-mail alert (not perfect, but works pretty well). So, while Google Voice sounds like it could be a great thing, the functionality isn't all that new. I've had most of it for years.

Christina   November 9th, 2009 3:27 pm ET

I've had it for a few years now (started as Grand Central) and I liked it. Now I LOVE it since my android phone has an app for google voice so I can call using my GV # or my regular phone #. GV has better ability to block "annoying creeps" than my cell phone company provided. Google is my copilot, professor, and personal assistant... 😉

Ali   November 10th, 2009 5:40 am ET

Google voice is the best thing ever since the invention of cell phones, arguably! Google voice is one of the most innovative calling, texting, and futurization of making and recieving calls. Even making international calls Google Voice is the cheapest price that you will ever find. Also, I can text all of my friends from all over the world for free with google voice. I can only imagine that Google will only build from this into something better and better.

rocklobster   November 10th, 2009 11:18 am ET

Google voice sounds good. But, I was using a similar service 8 years ago, called Webely. They have been bought up now and are working most in the corporate arena.

I was given one 800 number. I could send it to all of my phones at once or to only one. It have many ways to screen and filter calls. It send me an email with an attachment of the voice mail, if I wanted it to.

I could dial in and have it read my email messages to me as I drove, with earpiece in. I only needed a business cared with one number. That was great for I could control access to me at certain busy times, I could screen every call. I could leave a special message for any particular caller. And it went on and on. Finally, as I said, it was bought up, name changed. Oh, I could read the voice mail messaged on-line also or just listen to them.

It was not free, but my customers and my production teams truly enjoyed being able to reach me and know that I would get the message either as an email or an email read to me and on and on.

I was sorry to see it go.

Dan   November 10th, 2009 4:20 pm ET

do any of you have a spare invite you'd like to send me. I'd love to start beta testing

Stacy   November 11th, 2009 1:22 pm ET

Will somebody send me an invite. I requested it through Google but have not received any information yet. My email is Thanks!!

Carl   December 6th, 2009 12:40 am ET

Hey guys, if anyone of you all are a non believer of Christ take heed: the Kingdom of GOD is at hand. So if you are an unbeliever of JESUS Christ if you may, please pray this prayer with me: LORD JESUS, my father GOD in heaven, I admit that I am a sinner and please forgive me for my sins. Cleanse me by your HOLY most precious blood. I now believe that you died on the cross for my sins and rose again on the third day to conquer death and hell. And now JESUS CHRIST LORD, please come into my life. My life now is yours, and I trust you always. In JESUS name I pray Amen and Amen.
Now brethrens, if you prayed this prayer, I suggest that you seek a Christian church and avail a HOLY BIBLE. GOD bless to us all, Amen.

chris   January 14th, 2010 1:19 pm ET

There is no god.

Now back ON TOPIC:

I use GV as a biz #, that I forward to my cell during the day. Sounds like Google is not a pioneer in this arena, but I like what it can do combined with the fact that it's free. However, I am equally cautious and waiting for Google to announce how they will pay for this. If they get stupid, don't forget you can take your GV # somewhere else.

Outshined   April 12th, 2010 6:26 am ET

Need an invite!!

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Great content. Waiting for you to continue the topic.

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