It’s very simple really, and I’m sure there’s more in Google Voice that I’ll get into once I’m back in the US, but for now it has solved one very painful problem that I’ve struggled with for years. For the last several years, and especially this year, I’ve spent significant time outside the US in Africa, South Asia, and elsewhere. Typically when I go overseas I turn off my AT&T US phone – no roaming charges, thanks – and get a local SIM. The problem there is that getting access to voicemails, if people called my US number, required both a) turning on the AT&T phone and b) an expensive call back to the US to check voicemail.
Google Voice solves that really easily, and doesn’t require me to change my primary US number. Instead, I set up a Google Voice number and entered a code to forward from the AT&T phone to the Google Voice account for all voicemail handling.
Now, if you call my US number and get voicemail you can leave a message and know that I’ll get it. Google Voice sends me an email with the audio attachment and also does an attempted transcription. The transcription isn’t great (yet) but it does usually give enough of the gist of the message that I know immediately whether it’s something I need to deal with now, soon, later, or never.
Simple, works great, and it’s free. Totally sweet.
Now if they only had international call forwarding at reasonable rates…