We’ve have covered Google Voice before on Digitizd (here and here) and since then it’s gotten even better. The service gives you a number (or allows you to port your current number over to the system) and then gives you the ability to make free calls and send texts from your computer or phone. While Google Voice is the service of choice for this author, there are quite a few other respectable options available.
While Google Voice was designed primarily for personal use, Phonebooth Free is a worthy alternative for businesses and for people looking for more capability. The distinguishing features this service offers are the auto-attendant and extensions. Of course, if you’re looking to use this for personal use, you can still enjoy using voicemail transcriptions (50 per month), a free local phone number with minutes (200 free, then 3 cents per minute), and call routing. Call routing enables you to have specific phones only ring at certain times (for instance, your mobile phone will only ring on the weekends). Phonebooth also has a paid option ($20 per month per user) with two free phone numbers, unlimited minutes and transcriptions.
OpenVBX & Twilio
For more tech savy users, there’s OpenVBX, which is also primarily designed for business but can be used for personal use. I discovered this while investigating Dreamhost’s one-click install feature. OpenVBX integrates with Twilio, which I like because of its pricing and customizability. In a short time, I was able to set up a phone number that would present callers with an elaborate phone tree ensuring that I’d never actually have to speak with someone on the phone again. Thank goodness. For those who actually want to speak on the phone, OpenVBX paired with Twilio offers an astonishing amount of capability, from text to speech and speech to text options to conference options, all in an easy drag and drop interface.
Now, for someone who just wants a second line, we have the aptly named Line2. Line2 is an app for Android and iOS. The standard plan costs $9.95 a month, giving you unlimited calling and texting inside North America. There’s also a free plan that allows unlimited calling and texting to other Line2 customers, and a $14.95 business plan.
Sendhub is a service like Line2 that gives you another number with an emphasis on group messaging. However, the service also gives you 1,000 text messages and 60 voice minutes for free each month.
If you’re just sending text messages, textPlus makes more sense, giving you unlimited text messages from an app on your phone.
Photo credit: couleurs gm