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Screen Your Cell Phone Calls Like an Old School Answering Machine

Sweet tech tip

answering machineRemember the days when you had a physical answering machine recorder and you screened calls by listening to the first part of the message and then acting like you just ran into the room and pick up the phone, “oh hey, Pam, I’m glad you caught me!” Then along came the evil cell phone and you couldn’t interrupt a message as a means of screening calls.

These days are over, thanks to Google. Now, if you sign up for a Google Voice number that forwards to your cell phone (it takes time to get a free number assigned to you, by the way), it prompts you with who is calling and you can opt to answer it or send it to voicemail, then begin listening to the voicemail live and decide whether or not to pick up.

Here’s the demo:

What do you think about this service offering, will you use it? And more importantly, would you be offended if someone used it on you?

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Lori

    February 19, 2010 at 12:33 am

    I have/use Google Voice for my photography business. I love most things about it.

    1) I never have to give my real number. Only 4 people have that number: Verizon, my husband, and two VERY close friends.

    2) I have a record with pseudo-transcripts of incoming calls, messages, texts, etc.

    3) I can block telemarketing and other spam.

    et cetera

    My only complaints are:

    a) there is a tiny lag in the conversation. I had to get used to this and stop assuming it was my turn to talk again. It’s a little like talking to someone overseas used to be. Perhaps other VOIP services are the same.

    b) occasionally, the system hiccups. I’ve had some funky un-connected calls at times. They are occasional and infrequent. It’s worth being in the beta group for the other features (and more) listed above.

    I less-than-the-number-3 Google Voice.

    • Lani Rosales

      February 19, 2010 at 12:42 am

      I’ve never had any hiccups but I haven’t used it *that* much.

      Sidenote: I have your real number, yay 🙂

    • Jordan

      February 19, 2010 at 5:44 am

      (I’ve been using the heck outta GV (thanks to Lori) since relocating. It allowed me to keep the number my past friends & clients have while getting a local number as well w/out adding a line to my cell. It’s GREAT!)

      Lori! Thanks for bringing the delay to light! I’m always catching myself talking over my clients & now I know why! I’ll just try to remember to pause before responding.

  2. Thomas Johnson

    February 19, 2010 at 7:37 am

    GV is awesome technology which we are just starting to shake out. The one and only negative is the privacy issue. Do you want every word of your phone conversations sitting on a Google server especially since they now have opened their servers to the NSA due to the Chinese Communists hacking them? Everyone should answer this before they expose them selves and everyone they talk to to this.

  3. Scott Cowan

    February 20, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I have one observation that I wish Google would address about Goggle Voice.

    It takes way too long to receive the call. 7 to 15 rings on the callers end before it asks for their name. I am concerned that many people will not wait that long and will simply hang up and call another Realtor thinking I am simply not paying attention.

    I have found no settings in the control panel to adjust the number of rings.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

  4. BawldGuy

    February 20, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Transcripts of every single one of your private conversations? Are you sayin’ folks know this and still use it? I’ll keep my next thought to myself, as it’s terribly offensive.

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