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Google Voice: what all the talk's about

By Andrew Heining / March 12, 2009

Can you hear call, text, reach-me-anywhere now?

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Google this morning announced an overhaul for GrandCentral, the "one number to rule them all" telephone service it acquired in 2007.

Now called Google Voice, the service forwards calls to multiple phones, screens calls, transcribes voicemails, manages and routes text messages, offers free US and cheap international calls, and offers customizable call handling, greetings, and availability options.

The old-fashioned three-tone "this nunber has been disconnected" message is even at your fingertips for those really annoying callers.

And, since it's from Google, the whole thing's free.

The service is limited to Grand Central users for now (a group grandfathered in from when Google paid $50 million for the service two years ago) but will be made public in the coming weeks.

Here's a look at what's being said about the new Google Voice offerings:

Voicemail transcription

"This is huge. It means that you can search, sort, save, forward, copy and paste voice mail messages.... Companies like PhoneTag, Callwave and Spinvox already transcribe voice mail, complete with punctuation. They’re great, but they cost money. Google Voice is free." [David Pogue for the New York Times]

"The key feature of Google Voice is that it recognizes the words in a voicemail message left for you, and can then email the transcript to your inbox or deliver it to your phone via SMS--kind of like having a digital personal assistant managing your calls for you." [Kit Eaton for Fast Company]

Just one number

"You don't have to worry about which number to hand out to people, and if you're sitting with your cell phone next to you home or work phone, you can choose which to answer. If you have the "screen calls" option enabled, Google Voice will ask you if you want to accept the call or send the person to voice mail....

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