By Chuong Nguyen | March 12, 2009 11:42 PM
Google had bought a free calling service called Grand Central some time ago. Grand Central gives users a local telephone number for free; users can give out that number to friends, family, and co-workers. When other people call that number, it can ring your home, cell, and work phone all at once, which is useful in areas where you might not have the best cellular reception or want to preserve minutes. Now, Google is about to unleash a revised service, called Google Voice, which folds in all the beautiful Grand Central features and adds some more, all for free.
According to ZDNet, Google Voice will provide the following services:
-Call screening – Announce and screen callers
-Listen in – Listen before taking a call
-Block calls – Keep unwanted callers at bay
-SMS – Send, receive, and store SMS
-Place calls – Call US numbers for free
-Taking calls – Answer on any of your phones
-Phone routing – Phones ring based on who calls
-Forwarding phones – Add phones and decide which ring
-Voicemail transcripts – Read what your voicemail says
-Listen to voicemail – Check online or from your phone
-Notifications – Receive voicemails via email or SMS
-Personalize greeting – Vary greetings by caller
-Share voicemail – Forward or download voicemails
-Conference calling – Join people into a single call
-Call record – Record calls and store them online
-Call switch – Switch phones during a call
-Mobile site – View your inbox from your mobile
-GOOG-411 – Check directory assistance
-Manage groups – Set preferences by group
Currently, Google is slowly migrating Grand Central customers first and will later add Google users who wish to sign up. At the time of this posting, my Grand Central account is not yet available for upgrading to Google Voice.
Hopefully Google will update Grand Central in a way so that the Google Voice will be able to email the voicemail as a WAV or MP3 file to a registered email account. Previously, with Grand Central, an email link was sent and once clicked, the voicemail could be played in a Flash 10-capable browser.
The beautiful thing is that the new Google Voice service will also provide you with an email transcript of your voicemail, a service that costs a monthly subscription fees on rival offerings like CallWave, which we had previously reviewed.
Hit the break for more videos of the service.