Talking tech since 2003

Last month, Google grabbed 1 million phone numbers; a move that implies we may soon see the availability of Google Voice.  The service from the internet giant “lets users unify their phone numbers, allowing them to have a single number through Google Voice that rings a call through to all their phones.”  There has been much speculation that the service will be open to the public very soon.

In 2007, Google acquired GrandCentral for $45 Million.  The result was the still-anticipated Google Voice service.  The Google Voice homepage lists the following features:

  • Call screening – Announce and screen callers
  • Listen in – Listen before taking a call
  • Block calls – Keep unwanted callers at bay
  • SMS – Send, receive, and store SMS
  • Place calls – Call US numbers for free
  • Taking calls – Answer on any of your phones
  • Phone routing – Phones ring based on who calls
  • Forwarding phones – Add phones and decide which ring
  • Voicemail transcripts – Read what your voicemail says
  • Listen to voicemail – Check online or from your phone
  • Notifications – Receive voicemails via email or SMS
  • Personalize greeting – Vary greetings by caller
  • Share voicemail – Forward or download voicemails
  • Conference calling – Join people into a single call
  • Call record – Record calls and store them online
  • Call switch – Switch phones during a call
  • Mobile site – View your inbox from your mobile
  • GOOG-411 – Check directory assistance
  • Manage groups – Set preferences by group

The best thing of all, though, is that the service is completely free.  As of now, it is only open to GrandCentral users, but that is soon to change.

One of the very cool features is the ability to place calls from your web browser.  Let’s say you are browsing your GMail or surfing the web.  If there is a phone number attached to a contact, you can select to call the number straight from your browser.  You will be presented with a menu asking if you’d like to call from your house, mobile, work, or any other phone you have linked to the service.  With a few clicks, your phone will be ringing in to the destination.

Voicemail Transcripts is another cool feature of Google Voice.  It allows you to keep a written record of your voicmails that you can access from any computer.  This can prove to be especially handy if you need to keep important information, or you forgot an important phone number someone left you.

GOOG-411 is a free 411 service that is already available to anyone in the United States.  Why waste money calling directory assistance?  Just call 1-800-GOOG-411 and you can get the local McDonald’s phone number and address in an instant.

Check out the Google Voice site for a full feature list with video demonstrations.

This service is going to be big.  It’s going to change the way we use our phones.  It’s going to make our lives and ability to be contacted much easier.  Of course there is the privacy issue.  As if Google doesn’t already know enough about everyone, they may soon have direct access to our phone records.  This is something users will need to consider before signing up for the service.

What do you think about Google Voice?  Are you one of the lucky ones who’s already using it?  Will you use it when it becomes available to the public?  Is this service just another step to letting Google know absolutely everything about us?  Leave a comment!  We want to know what you think!

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