Google now dishing out Voice invites

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Google today announced that it would allow current Google Voice users to extend invitations to friends and family – a move that will widen the reach of the long-awaited Voice service, which is still in private testing. According to the Google Blog, starting today, Voice users will see an "Invite a friend" link in the left-hand side of their inbox.

"Since the debut of Google Voice, our early users have shared lots of feedback that has led to some exciting new features, like the ability to receive SMS messages via email and the option to change your Google Voice number," Google product manager Craig Walker wrote in a post. "But one of the most frequent requests we've received is for the ability to share Google Voice with friends and family."

Google Voice has been a long time coming. In 2007, Google acquired GrandCentral, an Internet company created to link up different phone numbers under one single set of digits. Then earlier this year, Google Voice launched a closed testing period for an audience of GrandCentral users. They tacked on a few of their own features: a transcription service for voice mail, and free text messaging.

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According to Ars Technica, which was part of the closed beta program, Google Voice is “remarkably powerful and easy to use. It has a number of killer features, such as support for switching between lines during the middle of a call and recording incoming calls by simply pressing a button. Recorded calls and voicemails can be heard directly in the browser through a streaming playback interface and can also be downloaded as MP3 files.”

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