What Google Voice Is and How It Works

May 26, 2023 • Zachary Amos


In a world where staying connected is paramount, Google Voice emerges as a versatile and cost-effective communication tool. However, you may be asking yourself, “What is Google Voice, and how does it work?”

It’s a feature-rich telecommunication service, and it’s transforming the way we communicate. Whether it’s making free calls, sending text messages or personalizing voicemail settings, Google Voice offers various useful features.

Here is a breakdown of its numerous capabilities, how it operates, and a comparison with other popular services.

What Is Google Voice?

Google Voice is a telecommunication service that Google launched in 2009. It offers multiple features, including:

  • Free calls within the U.S. and Canada.
  • Low-cost international calls
  • Text messaging
  • Voicemail transcripts sent to your inbox.
  • Spam call and text message protection.
  • Call screening
  • Voicemail access from your smartphone, tablet or computer.

Initially known as GrandCentral, a company Google acquired in 2007, it was rebranded to Google Voice two years later. The service was built on the idea of “one number for life” — a single phone number that you can link to multiple devices and locations. Over the years, Google has continually refined and added features, making it a competitive player in the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services market.

How It Works

Google Voice operates using VoIP technology, which allows voice calls and messages to be transmitted over the internet, as opposed to traditional phone lines. This technology forms the foundation of its unique features.

To get started, you first sign up using your Google account. During the sign-up process, you choose a number from available options. This becomes your universal number, linked to all your devices. 

The key feature is its call routing system. When someone calls your number, the service directs the call to all linked devices, ensuring you always get your call no matter the device you’re currently using. You can also set custom rules for call forwarding based on the caller or time of day.

As for messaging, it supports both SMS and MMS, allowing users to send and receive text messages, images and videos. These messages are also synchronized across all your devices, offering a seamless communication experience.

Overall, the service provides a versatile and flexible communication platform that blurs the lines between different devices and geographical locations.

How To Use Google Voice

Getting started is a fairly straightforward process:

  • Sign up: First, you’ll need a Google account. Navigate to the Google Voice website or download the app, then sign in with your account. You’ll be prompted to choose a Google Voice number from the available options.
  • Make calls: To make a call, simply open Google Voice, click on the dial pad, enter the number and hit the call button. Alternatively, you can select a contact from your list.
  • Send text messages: Click on the ‘Messages’ tab, select a conversation or start a new one by clicking on ‘+,’ type your message and press send.
  • Customize settings: Navigate to the settings menu where you can customize your voicemail greeting, forward settings, do not disturb times and more.
  • Check voicemail: Voicemails are accessible through the ‘Voicemail’ tab. Google Voice provides transcriptions of your voicemails, which you can read directly from the app, website or email.

The Advantages and Disadvantages

Like any service, Google Voice comes with its share of pros and cons.


  • Cost-effectiveness: One of Google Voice’s biggest appeals is its affordability. Calls within the U.S. and Canada are free, and international rates are competitive.
  • Flexibility and convenience: The service is accessible from any device with internet access, providing great flexibility. Its unified number feature means you can receive calls on any device, and text messages are synced across all devices.


  • Internet dependency: Being an internet-based service, Google Voice’s functionality is directly tied to your internet connection. Poor internet connectivity can lead to reduced call quality or service disruption.
  • Limitations for business use: While Google Voice offers numerous benefits for individual users, it may only partially cater to the needs of businesses. It lacks features such as multi-line handling or advanced call management options.

You can weigh these pros and cons to help you decide whether Google Voice is right for your communications needs.

Google Voice vs. Other VoIP Services

In the ever-growing VoIP landscape, Google Voice competes with several other services, such as Zoom and Vonage. Here’s how they stack up:

  • Price: Offers free services for individual users, making it budget-friendly. Zoom provides free basic video conferencing services, with fee-based plans for additional features and participants. Vonage, primarily a business solution, charges a monthly fee but offers extensive features for the cost.
  • Features: Covers all the basics for individual communication needs. Zoom focuses on video conferencing, with options for screen sharing and recording. Vonage offers robust business-centric features like CRM integrations, video conferencing and team messaging.
  • Ease of use: Is well-integrated with other Google services and is easy to use. Zoom is renowned for its user-friendly interface. Vonage’s platform is a bit more complex due to its numerous features, but still manageable with a slight learning curve.
  • Quality of service: All three provide good call quality, although this is dependent on your internet connection.

Is Google Voice Right for You?

Google Voice is an excellent choice for individuals seeking flexibility and cost-effectiveness in their communication tools. With its free calls and texts, affordable international rates and easy accessibility, it’s a versatile solution for people on the go.

The service can be particularly beneficial for freelancers, small-business owners and people with a high volume of daily communications. It’s also ideal for those who value the convenience of managing all communications — calls, texts and voicemails — from a single platform.

Determining if it is right for you comes down to your specific needs. If you value cost-effectiveness, flexibility and convenience and primarily require basic call and messaging services, Google Voice is a fantastic option. However, other VoIP services may be a more suitable choice for larger businesses needing advanced call management features.

Unpacking the Value

To sum it up, Google Voice is a transformative VoIP service that offers robust features at an unbeatable cost. It’s a convenient tool for individual users and small businesses — allowing for seamless communication across multiple devices and locations. However, it does depend on a stable internet connection and may lack all the advanced functionalities for larger businesses or those with more complex communication needs.

Overall, the service is a formidable communication tool for the digital age, enabling flexible and efficient communication. If you’re in search of a versatile, cost-effective communication solution, Google Voice is undoubtedly worth considering.