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In June, we discussed how Google Voice became available to everyone and the potential that it created for attorneys. For those of you who don't know what it is, Google Voice is a free communications application that can save you time and money. It offers several features that a regular phone does not replicate. For example, you get to create a new local phone number, you can choose to have the calls forward to one or more additional numbers and you can receive transcribed voicemails by text and or e-mail.
Now Google adds a feature taking Voice to the next level by offering a way for U.S. users to make Google Voice calls through Gmail. Google has announced that calls will be free within the U.S. and Canada through the end of the year, and then will be small charges for international calls. In fact, PC to phone calls to many countries around the are only two cents per minute. The move is seen as a step to take on Skype and other similar services.
This means that for the solo or small firm attorney on a budget, the phone bill could be greatly reduced. An attorney could choose a basic office line or mobile phone on an inexpensive plan and then make as many calls as possible from the office. When on the road, they can access Google Voice either through an application or through the mobile web browser on the phone. In addition, attorneys may like using Google Voice because it can have callers announce themselves, set custom greetings and even listen in live as callers leave voicemails.
Wired.com tested out the new calling feature and gave it positive reviews, rating the Google Voice call quality as "excellent." Google Voice is not available to everyone...yet. Google is expected to complete the roll out over the next day. If your Gmail is ready to start using it, you will notice a "Call Phone" link and icon at the top of your chat contact list.