Google officially announced today that, for a one-time $20 fee, Google Voice users could move their mobile phone number over to the service. The move was rumored when Engadget first noticed the feature's availability last week, but Google said that it was only a test and that it planned to offer the feature to all users in the near future.
According to some, porting your phone number over to the service can be an experience not unlike an LSD trip gone awry. If you want to avoid this, Google offers a few tips on how to make it an easy and smooth transition.
When you port your number over to Google Voice, your existing phone carrier cancels your phone line. This is the first, and most important, thing you need to consider. This means that you can be subject to those $200+ early termination fees and you can likely be without service for a period of time. Google Voice, though a VoIP solution in many ways, will not work on your cell phone without cellular service, much as it won't work on your 3G iPad.
To this point, Google suggests that you contact your carrier prior to initiating the porting process and set up a second mobile number and service. "As soon as this second number is added to your account," the company explains, "go to voice.google.com, click on Settings, and under Phones add this new, second number as a forwarding phone." If you're an SMS-addict, also take note that Google warns that you can experience "disruptions in sending and receiving text messages for up to 3 business days."
Now that you've been fairly warned about some pre-steps you might want to take, how do you make the switch?
- Go to Google Voice, click Settings in the upper right corner and choose Voice Settings from the drop-down menu.
- You'll see your Google Voice number in the middle of the window with a link to "Change / Port". Click on it.
- Fill out all the forms and you're done.
So, the actual porting process is simple. Currently, the feature is only available to existing Google Voice users and to mobile numbers, not landlines.
Before you make the final leap, you might consider Danny Sullivan's tale of Google Voice use for the past six months. According to Sullivan, the service provides a much more seamless experience on Android than iPhone. He also says that text messages can come in "very delayed" and that their integration into the phone is not complete, even on the Android side of things.
What do you think? Does it sound worth it to you?