I think it would be a very good idea if this was getting more acknowledgment and attention within the military services, because this is a really cool offering Google has made available to military service members. From the Google Public Policy Blog, Audio Care Packages to Service Members with Google Voice.
For servicemen and women who are constantly on the move, having a single number and an easy way to retrieve messages from loved ones can be invaluable. To help our service members communicate with their loved ones and show our support to those serving our country, Google is launching a new program. Starting today, any active U.S. service member with a .mil email address can sign up for a Google Voice account at www.google.com/militaryinvite and start using the free service within a day.
When you deploy, your life is put on hold. While you live and work in a different world, everyone else moves on with life back home. Your family and friends keep moving, and this sometimes means it’s just not possible for them to stay awake until 2 a.m. to receive a phone call. Calling Iraq or Afghanistan is seldom an option.
Google Voice provides a solution to some of these problems. Service members can set up an account before they deploy. Or if they’re already deployed, families can now set up an account for their service member. Loved ones can call to leave messages throughout the day, and then when that service member visits an Internet trailer, all the messages are right there. It’s like a care package in audio form.
How does it work? Well, a Google phone number is like a regular phone number except instead of being tied to a phone, it is tied to you (think virtually). When someone calls you, they call your Google number and you choose where it rings, whether your office, cell phone, home, Aunt Fannie’s basement, or even that otherwise useless phone unable to make outgoing long distance calls in the shack the LtCol has you hanging out this week. Actually, a Google number is even more flexible than that, because it can ring all your numbers at once if you like, or just specific phones depending upon who is calling!
For example, when my mother-in-law calls it only rings at home, but if my mother calls it will reach my cell phone. Whenever my most annoying, slow paying client calls, I can simply send that call straight to Googe Voicemail so I don’t have to talk to them, then access my voicemail from any phone or even online.
The real advantage for service members is that the Google number will stay the same, tied to you, even as you move around the world not only during a deployment, but throughout a career. Very flexible, and essentially a virtual phone number that allows you to change cell phones, and cell phone services, without worrying about losing your cell phone number as you constantly change service providers.
I think Google has the right idea here inviting military service members as early testers of the service, because military service members represent an ideal group to give them the most mileage for what amounts to free beta testing the Google Voice service. Could end up being a very useful service for the Blackberry officer, given that Google Voice apps for Blackberrys are already available, assuming IT will allow you to have the app on your Blackberry…