Over the past year, I’ve tested hundreds of apps, websites and online tools. I abandoned most of them shortly after the trial but there are a few tools that I go back to again and again. One is Skype and one is Google Voice through Gmail.
Both tools allow me to easily talk with people around the world but they each fill a separate need.
Google Voice through Gmail is my go-to option when I need to call someone in the US. Calls within the country (or within Canada if that’s where you live) are free and they’re going to stay that way for another year. They keep saying it’s only for a year, but they said that last year and the year before and it’s still free.
Mind you, I’m not complaining. My cell phone gets spotty reception inside my house, so I turn to Google Voice for business calls. Why not Skype? Because Skype charges for outgoing calls to cell or landlines.
In Skype’s favor, though, if you have international contacts who are on Skype as well, you can call them for free and talk all night long. (My favorite evening activity.) Google Voice charges for outgoing international calls.
Beyond the free calls, both Skype and Google Voice have options that lead me to one or the other depending on the situation. Skype used to be my tool of choice for conference calls because I can record using third-party software. Google Voice doesn’t have this option. I know there are all kinds of legal ramifications to recording calls, but when I’m conducting interviews, I have to have it.
On the other side, a glitch in the last Skype upgrade makes it impossible to type in an extension or press control buttons in a conference call. Once you’re connected, the keypad becomes unresponsive. (Have they fixed this yet?)
Google Voice through Gmail is a great online tool. You can also use it for incoming calls. You can dial straight from your contact list and it has a video option, as well. There’s also a version for the iPhone and Android. Best feature – the system automatically transcribes your voice mail messages so you can read them on the go.
One word of warning: if you’re on a call through Gmail, make sure you don’t close the page or try to log-in with a different account. I’ve dropped more phone calls that way.
In the battle of the online calling services, which is your favorite Skype or Google Voice?