If you have not heard of the new service from Google you really need to check this out. You may remember Google acquired GrandCentral and are now rolling out the technology as their own but with lots of new features.
The basic idea of Google Voice is to have a single phone number that reaches you where ever you are. Supposedly, later this year, you will actually be able to transfer your current number to Google Voice thanks to number portability. The service routes your calls to any or all of the phone numbers you have in your life based on rules you define.
My favorite feature of Google Voice is the ability to have different phones ring based on who is calling. This is like distinctive ring on steroids. When my son calls me I have all of my numbers ~ work, personal cell, onstar car phone and skype ring simultaneously – no chance of him missing me. You can customize ring behaviors for each incoming phone number in your Google Voice address book. It is easy to route annoying callers directly to voicemail (none of your phones ever ring).
To really make this work you need to either port your main number to Google Voice or start with a fresh set of phone numbers that nobody knows. Obviously, if people already have your cell number, Google Voice can not do any routing to people calling it directly.
Other cool features include: integrated sms send and receive functionality, conference calling, automated voicemail transcription (this needs some work), voicemail delivered as an audio file to your email box and cool voicemail archiving for later reference.
So, will this new product help Google successfully compete with Skype and other major online voice messaging service? I don’t know, but I bet my cell phone provider won’t like the fact that I have so much more control of where my calls are going – less money for them. :)
This is a cool Google Voice iPhone app video: