The Pros and Cons of Using Google Voice as Your Primary Phone
You have options when it comes to your phone service — options that go beyond a traditional cell phone plan or landline. Moving your primary phone to an online phone service can save you money, but it also comes with some drawbacks. In this Google Voice review, we’ll take a look at Google Voice for business and personal use to help you decide if the benefits of Google Voice outweigh your other options when it comes to your phone service.
Let’s get started. Are you ready to cut the phone cord? Is an internet-based VOIP like Google Voice a good alternative to your current cell phone plan? What is Google Voice, and how does Google Voice work? Google Voice offers free Internet-based phone numbers and calls within the United States. The low price tempts some thrifty users to abandon their paid phone plan. However, using Google Voice as a primary phone number has several pros and cons. The best choice depends on your individual needs.
Google Voice made a splash when it debuted in 2009, but for a while after that it seemed like Google forgot about the app and it started getting dusty. Google Voice received a much-needed upgrade in June 2017. The upgrade introduced new features and an improved user interface. This update inspires us to revisit the question, “Is Google Voice ready to serve as your primary phone?” But we’re getting ahead of ourselves — the first question to answer is “What is Google Voice?”
What is Google Voice and How Does Google Voice Work?
Google Voice is an extremely popular secondary phone service. Since calls and text messages in the United States are free, it offers an inexpensive alternative to using your regular phone number. If you’re not too concerned about saving some money on your phone plan each month, why use Google Voice at all?
To begin with, Google Voice gives you a Google number. What is a Google number? A Google Voice number is a single phone number you can distribute that, when called, will ring on as many or as few of your devices as you want. As it turns out, a secondary phone number is useful in countless situations, and Google Voice’s features save users time and money. What is a Google number good for? Here’s a list of ideas for how you might benefit from having a Google number.
Types of situations in which people use Google Voice:
- Freelancers and Side Hustlers: You run a side business and want a separate telephone number. Your business voicemail greeting to create a more professional impression. The caller doesn’t need to know that you do business while sitting on your sofa and wearing pajamas.
- Online Dating: You engage in internet dating through Tinder, Match, eHarmony or other popular dating services. You may want a separate phone number to avoid giving dates your actual phone number until you feel safe. If things go wrong, you can block the caller and move on since he or she doesn’t have your home phone number.
- Online Buying and Selling: You buy or sell items through Craigslist or bid sites like eBay and letgo. The exchange is easier with a phone number.
- Volunteer Work: You are a community volunteer who does not want to give your home phone number to service users. A secondary phone number protects your privacy and safety.
- Preventing Unwanted Sales Calls: You want a phone number to give businesses when you order online. Some like to use a Google Voice number for businesses that ask for a phone number when you request information or buy something.
The first part of our Google Voice review is that Google Voice works well as a secondary number since you can forward calls from your Google Voice number to your cell phone or even a landline. International calls cost, but calls within the US are free. The savings might tempt you to cancel your phone service and use this free service as your only phone. Yet, there are pros and cons to consider.
Pros and Cons to Using Google Voice as Your Primary Phone Number
Pros to Using Google Voice as Your Primary or Only Phone
Simplicity and savings are the most obvious benefits to using Google Voice. Since it is a free service, you can’t beat the price for calls and texts within the US. All you need is a strong and reliable wifi connection. If you buy a good cellular data plan, Google Voice may be a viable option to serve as your only phone service. The pros and cons do vary depending on whether you plan to use Google Voice for business or personal use.
Benefits of Google Voice for Personal Use Include:
- You save money since you only pay for add-on services. You may pay for porting your existing mobile phone number or international calls. We mentioned this before, but it is the obvious benefit.
- Users enjoy entry level VOIP services. These services include conference calling and transcribed voicemail. You may also set up different voicemail greetings for specific callers.
- Google Voice integrates with other Google services like Gmail and Google Calendar. This improves productivity.
- You can make and receive calls anywhere, whether at home or while traveling abroad. All you need is a cellular data plan or wifi connection. This allows you to make free calls to family or friends at home during an international trip.
- Record incoming calls and receive transcribed voicemail messages.
- Sometimes Google Voice users find the service unreliable. They encounter bad signals, dropped calls, lagging, or other problems.
- Google Voice allows users to record incoming calls.
Additional Benefits of Google Voice for Business Use Include:
- The personal use benefits also apply to business use.
- If you use Google Voice as your primary business phone, but maintain a personal line you can forward your calls to all your phones simultaneously.
- A VOIP like Google Voice allows you to run your business from anywhere in the world if you have access to wifi.
- Business users may establish a local number for clients if Google owns phone numbers within that area code.
Cons to Using Google Voice as Your Primary or Only Phone
Our Google Voice review concludes that most users enjoy using Google Voice as a secondary service, but when you rely on it as your primary service, you may notice several problems. This is especially true if you use Google Voice as your only service. Again, the disadvantages vary whether you plan to use Google Voice for business or personal purposes.
These Potential Downsides Include:
- If Google Voice is your exclusive phone service, consider that you now rely on your wifi access. What if you need to make emergency calls? What if you are somewhere without a free wifi connection?
- Some users may need to buy a hotspot or data plan to meet their communication needs. This expense may negate the savings from canceling mobile service.
- Support is lacking. This is a case where the user gets what they pay for. If something goes wrong, you may be happier with a cell phone plan or commercial VOIP plan.
- Google Voice has an outdated interface compared to many commercial VOIP services. Even after the June 2017 update, some users find that it isn’t as easy to use or as feature rich as some other services.
- Google limits text messages sent from Google Voice to 160 characters when you are text a non-Google number. Longer messages are split into multiple short messages. If your texts are considerably longer than a tweet, this may be a challenge.
- The new update makes it more difficult to start a call from your laptop or desktop computer. You must use Google Hangouts and unblock pop-ups on your web browser.
- While Google Voice allows you to record incoming calls within the app, it does not allow you to record outgoing calls.
Additional Disadvantages to Google Voice for Business Use Include:
- Most of the personal cons also apply to business users. The main difference is that many small business users maintain a personal phone number and use Google Voice for business.
- Business users may prefer a service offering more sophisticated features. For example, Google Voice users cannot set up a toll-free number for customers.
- Business users may find forwarding calls to their personal phone disturbs their work-life balance. Many business VOIP services allow office hours settings and other options to help.
Conclusion: Is Google Voice Ready to Serve as Your Primary Phone?
We’ve answered such questions as what is Google Voice, how does Google Voice work, and what are the benefits of Google Voice. But the question remains: Is Google Voice the right option to fulfill your needs as your primary phone provider?
The answer depends on your needs and whether you are using Google Voice for business or personal reasons. Most users find that Google Voice is not quite ready to serve as their only phone. They prefer to use it as a secondary number when they prefer not to give out their personal phone number. Some frugal individuals and business people use Google Voice as their primary phone service. Freelancers, side hustlers, and small business owners on a bootstrap budget may benefit from using Google Voice as it integrates well with other Google products and their personal phone service. Other business users may prefer a commercial VOIP with more sophisticated features, better support, and improved reliability.