Google Voice promises one number to ring them all

27 Oct 2009

Google is swiftly and subtly moving in the direction of making its Voice application as prevalent as its Gmail service, having just unveiled a new feature that allows users to keep their normal landline or mobile number.

In this way Google Voice, originally known as Grand Central, could shimmy its way onto mobile phones as an app that may give some mobile operators that lack evolved data plans sleepless nights and could be a blessing to emerging ranks of alternative WiMax ISPs.

Up until now, if you wanted to use Google Voice, you needed to choose a new number (a “Google number”).

Features of Google Voice

Google Voice has groundbreaking features that could usher in a widespread consumerisation of unified communications. For example, Google Voicemail sends voice mail to your Gmail account along with handy transcripts. The service also features free calls, call screening and conferencing calling.

Google Voice is available in the US by invite-only but it is only a matter of time before the California-headquartered internet giant creates a global offering.

Google Voice ‘lite’

“Taking calls through your Google number allows us to offer features like call recording, call screening and getting text messages via email. But we know not everyone wants to switch to a new phone number, so it made sense for us to create a lighter version of Google Voice for people who are willing to trade some features for the ability to use their existing numbers,” said Google Voice product manager Craig Walker in the official Google blog.

“We’re excited to announce that you now have the choice to get Google Voice with your existing mobile number or with a Google number.”

If users already have a Google Voice account, they can add Google Voicemail to any mobile phone linked to their account.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years