Are you using Google Voice yet? If not, you should be. And now is your chance to sign up if you do not already have a number. Google just opened up the service to all US users. You can now sign up without bugging for your friends for an invite, tweeting about open invites, or searching the web for blog contests to get your hands on an invite. Just go to the Google Voice page right now to sign up!

What is Google Voice?

Google Voice gives you one number for all your phones — a phone number that is tied to you, not to a device or a location. Use Google Voice to simplify the way you use phones, make using voicemail as easy as email, customize your callers’ experience, and more.

Google Voice isn’t a phone service, but it lets you manage all of your phones. Google Voice works with mobile phones, desk phones, work phones, and VoIP lines. There’s nothing to download, upload, or install, and you don’t have to make or take calls using a computer.

Google Voice will let you define which phones ring, based on who’s calling, and even let you ListenInTM on voicemail before answering the call. We use smart technology to route your calls. So, if you’re already on a Google Voice call, we’ll recognize it and use call waiting to reach you on the phone you’re on.

Note: At this time Google Voice is only available in the U.S.

Learn more about how Google Voice works.

Why should I use it?

Your reasons for wanting GV may be different than mine, but here is why I love it:

  • I love that I can put one number on my business cards and I don’t have to give out my cellular number.
  • My Google Voice number is cool. It is 77x-xxx-KRIS. You too may be able to choose a cool number if you act fast. Numbers go quick once everyone jumps on board!
  • Another favorite feature is that I can set certain callers to hear different greetings. You can have one greeting for your sweeting, one for your mom, one for unknown callers, etc. This is all setup super easy via the web interface.
  • Use Google from your iPhone, Blackberry and other devices to make calls AS your Google voice number.
  • If your cell service allows you to use a “Friends and Family list”, you can add your Google Voice number* to the list so that calls to and from that number are FREE. (* Be sure to also add the “local calling” number that pops up when you make a call via Google Voice from your cell.)
  • You can even stick a “Call Me” widget on your website or blog which allows visitors to click to call. And you can set this up so they either get through, or they are sent straight to voice mail which you can check later.
  • The ability to record a call when someone calls you on GV. This is great if you are using it as a business line.
  • Fast texting from the web. If you are at your desk, text from the  GV website instead of your phone.

How do I set it up?

  1. Visit the Google Voice page to setup and claim your number. If you are not already using GMail (and you should be) or have a Google account, you will need to set one up.
  2. Once your account is setup, go to your Settings tab and setup your phones. You can set it to forward to as many phones as you like, so you are never out of touch.
  3. Pass out the number!

Of course this is the short version. But it will get you up and running so that you can start receiving calls.  There are many, many options available such as creating Call Groups, customized greetings, voicemail transcription, VM notifications via SMS, and more. See the Google Voice page and view the videos in the video library linked below to get details instructions on how to use each.

Below is a great video overview of what you need Google Voice. For other useful videos, visit the video library.

I have been using it for a while, so if you have any questions, just ask!