Google Voice, the popular communication service originally known as GrandCentral before it was acquired by Google in 2007, has been invite-only for the past year. Demand for these hard-to-come-by invites was high – so high that they were being sold on eBay for as much as $200 – but Google just opened the service to the public, no invite necessary.
So what is Google Voice? Many things. When you sign up for Google Voice, you’ll get a fully-functional phone number that can act as an intermediary between you and your callers. When somebody calls your Google Voice number, you will be notified on your phone and will have access to call screening, conference calling, custom responses, and a Gmail-like voicemail inbox.
If you’re like us, we simply wanted to keep our existing mobile numbers and use Google Voice solely for its fantastic voicemail features. This gives you free transcriptions of voicemails (although they can be pretty terrible, as you’ll see in the screenshot below), and can be received via text message or with Google’s free app for Android (free visual voicemail – take that, Verizon!). All you need to do is forward your phone’s voicemail to your Google Voice number.
Here are just a few Google Voice features:
- Mobile web app
- Gmail integration
- Use Google Voice with an existing number
- Voicemail transcriptions
- Personalized greetings
Check out the video below for a little more of what Google Voice is about.
Now that Google Voice is free, give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments. I (Evan) used to be outspoken about my hatred of voicemail, but since I switched my voicemail to Google Voice, I’m all for it.
[via Google Voice Blog]