I started using GrandCentral service over two years before it was acquired by Google summer 2007. It was a great service that will now get even better. The hub feature of GrandCentral was the best at that time and still is. People can call one number and all your phones and computer ring. I could decide to listen in on the voice mail and click to talk if I decided to do so or record the conversation if you wanted. No phone tag.
Last week, GrandCentral was relaunched as Google Voice and Google has added a lot of goodies to an already great service integrating it into Gmail. Initially the service will only be available to the former GrandsCentral users in the US, with a broader launch to be announced at a later date. You can sign up here to get a Google Voice Invitation Request. Click here to get Sign Up Page
What does Google Voice do?
Sign up for the service and pick an area code. The phone number you get will then act as a central connection, forwarding the calls it receives to your home phone, cell phone, work number, and any other phone you might have all at the same time so you never have to miss a call if you don't want to miss a call.
- Google Voice not only helps you manage your numbers. It also integrates email, text messaging, and voice mail transcription.
- It's quite well integrated into Gmail. You get gmail messages of phone calls, transcriptions and choices of response. The transcriptions can be searched like you would for Gmail messages. It's a great touch. Transcriptions aren't perfect, but they are doable for the most part.
- All calls are free domestically. International calls are fee based. Google has stated that revenue from international calls will support the rest of Google Voice.
- The service will also allow users to set up conference calls with up to six callers.
- Google Voice will also support visual voicemail from all a user's phones
Click to Enlarge View of Google Voice Inbox
Click to Enlarge View of Google Voice Message in Gmail
Google Voice Technology and Future
Google Voice is an add-on application, though not full VoIP at this stage. It's a web enabled telephony feature, which works at the upper levels of the control plane rather than the media plane, like Skype. Since Google did such a tight job in integrating Google Voice into Gmail, and Google Apps, it's most likely being worked into Android... and it's highly unlikely that Google will ever make the jump over to gadgets. For now, at least there aren't any plans to run Google ads, but considering its core business model, it's not surprising that it would add this functionality at some point other than just charging for international calls to support the Google Voice venture. Sagefield Post
Though Internet based, currently, there are plans to integrate it with Android and push the search giant into the mobile voice market. It will add voice calling to the presence, location, instant messaging and chat options integrated into Gmail and other Google apps, which in turn are tightly integrated with Android platforms like T-Mobile G1.
This should be a major threat to Telecoms, which are already suffering, VOIP providers like skype and Gizmo, and also be a threat to mobile companies whose revenues are based on minutes used not advertising like Google.
No doubt there will be some concern with regard to stability a well as privacy issues since more and more of the world of Google Cloudware is being integrated with Gmail. The seamlessness makes life a lot easier. It also makes people more dependent on one provider. This exposes consumers to everything from unfriendly monopolies to super-viruses... but that's another article. Google Voice is a great service that simplifies life just a little bit more.