Still using 1990s-style voice mail and phone services? It’s upgrade time; here are a couple of cool tools to add some 21st century features to your telephone. (Extra cool, in fact, ’cause they’re free.)
First is YouMail.
Ever agonized over the right tone in an outgoing voice mail message — should you sound bone-dry and uber-professional, or should you inject a lighter tone? Do you want them to know how busy you are, or do you want to be generic?
As the site puts it, "Be fun with your friends, sweet to your sweetie, and professional with your boss."
You can also get your messages via e-mail and listen to them on the YouMail Web site. So if you forget your phone, at least you can still get your calls.
Then there’s one of the most popular features: Disconnect certain callers (you know who I mean) without even given them a chance to leave a message. That’ll teach ’em.
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Second is Google’s GrandCentral. It works like this: You create an account and choose a phone number (it’s free and you get lots of area codes to pick from). Then you set that number to ring whatever phones you want it to.
That means when someone calls your GrandCentral number, it can ring your office phone, cell phone, and home phone at the same time. No more call forwarding, and you can change your settings via the GrandCentral Web site on a whim.
Even better, you can create groups for incoming numbers, so that, say, if a family member calls it rings all your phones, but if anyone else calls it only rings your work and cell numbers. (Or if your boss calls, it goes right to voice mail. :-)
Speaking of voice mail, GrandCentral does that, too. Not only can you access it from a phone, you’ll also get an e-mail or text-message notification so you can listen on the GrandCentral Web site from any Internet-connected computer.
There are a bunch of other neat features, too: custom rings, call screening, receive free calls via the Web, etc. I’ve been using it since I moved to Richmond five months ago, and my GrandCentral number is the only one I give out. (I don’t think my wife even knows our "real" number, ’cause we never use it.)
It’s a great way to connect all your phones without having to remember or list multiple numbers.
And did I mention that it’s all free? Google said it’s going to stay that way, too, but it will be adding some premium features you’ll have to pay for.
Check out the site. If you decide you want to try it and need an invitation, drop me a note at Andrew at varealtor dot com and I’ll hook you up. (5/15: Invites are currently unavailable.))