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Google Voice is an add-on for Android phones that provides for "visual voicemail" as well as numerous additional functionality. It's so useful that you will find that most Android users probably use Google Voice to some degree or another.
While Google's main drive with Google Voice is their "one number" idea, it is not necessary to use this feature or even have a Google Voice number in order to use Google Voice. Many Android users set up Google Voice (without a Google Voice number) strictly for the visual voicemail and voicemail transcription features. Many other users might use the Google Voice phone number feature just so they can have a number to use for free unlimited text messaging, while not using that number for voice calls or having it ring other phones. Google Voice is extremely versatile and powerful, and you can configure it to only use those features that you want. For example, the person writing this has Google Voice set up to do the following:
- Everyone still uses my regular cell number
- My voicemail icon on my dock is replaced with Google Voice
- When someone leaves a voicemail, Google Voice immediately notifies me on my phone
- When the transcription is complete, I can read the transcript without listening to the voicemail
- I also get an email letting me know I have a voicemail, along with its transcript, in case I'm not by my phone.
- I can listen to the voicemail online with a computer if I'm not near my phone
- Holding down 1 still speedials my voicemail, like normal
- I use my special Google Voice # just for text messaging.
This is fairly light usage of the available Google Voice features. You can read all about Google Voice at Google's support pages. There's a ton of info there to get you oriented with what it can do and answer most of your questions.
The first step in getting Google Voice installed is to install the app. Click here for the AppBrain page, or use the QR code:
Launch the app to begin the configuration process. One of the first things you'll need to decide is whether you want to use a Google Voice number or not. If unsure, feel free to choose "no"... you can always go back and add one later if you choose to.
The install process will guide you through the necessary steps. It's highly-recommended that you do this by a PC, logged into the Google Voice page with your Google account. This will make the configuration simpler and faster as some setup steps are best done online. The website will walk you through the process, telling you exactly what to do when and what codes to dial into your phone to change the voicemail settings.