My invitation to Google voice came in the email about two weeks ago. I’ve set up my account, tested the phones, and imported my contacts. Now I am mulling over how much to use the service.

Google Voice provides a single telephone number that I can then direct to any number of cell phones, landlines, or whatevers. In theory I can keep this number forever and go online to change where it rings as I move or change locations.

Google Voice Widget

Google Voice Widget

Google also provides a widget for my website that let’s people call me for free. You just click on the widget on my website, enter your telephone number, and answer your phone. As soon as you answer, Google will connect you to my Google Voice numbers.

If you want to talk with me (and it’s a reasonable Pacific Coast timezone hour!) give it a try.  Click on this link to my Web Design and Internet Promotion website, and then click on the Google voice widget. Or, pick up your phone and dial my personal Google Voice number 415.347.3393.

But, I confess.  I haven’t put that number on my website.  I haven’t ordered business cards with the number.  I haven’t started giving out that number to friends, customers, or family.

Why?  Google Voice is free. Free for me.  Free for my friends, customers, and family.  Free.

I’m uneasy about relying on a free service. FREE! is a wonderful price, but will the catch be worth it?

Right now there is no catch.  You call, I answer.  If you’re calling from a blocked number, you have to say your name, and I’ll get a chance to answer or send you to voicemail.

In the future, the best guesses on Google’s forums are that Google will insert audio ads when people call me.  Instead of hearing a ringing tone or clicks before being connected, you’ll hear a targeted ad.  In addition, if you reach my Google Voice voicemail, those messages are automatically transcribed and sent to me via email.  The forum writers think that in the future if I look at voicemail transcripts online they’ll be Google Adwords ads on the margins that relate to the words in the transcript.

Voice ads for a free call?  Not bad, I guess.

On the other hand, I wouldn’t want someone calling me to get an ad for another web designer or marketing service.  And, I am not sure how comfortable I am having personal information available to Google.  What can it “learn” about me from the words in the voicemail transcripts? Or,  will Google also let itself listen into conversations to really give us “helpful” targeted ads?

As I said, I am mulling.