Google is preparing to launch its Google Voice service to the public in a few weeks. If you haven’t done so, you can get on the waiting list by leaving your email here.
Google Voice is a service that not only gives you a real phone number for all your phones, but also provides voicemail, SMS, call forwarding, phone routing, teleconferencing, call blocking, call screening, and many other advanced features. For example, you can use your Google number to make calls, or receive calls and automatically forward them to your other phones (cell, home, work, etc.). You may also read your voice mail online, because the service offers transcripts for your messages.
You can make international calls with Google Voice too, although this feature is not free. However, the rate will be quite low, even compared with low-cost phone cards. For example, $0.02/min for calls to China is pretty reasonable. If voice quality is decent, I’m sure many of our visitors will find it attractive. I’ll certainly give it a try when it comes out!
I have been a fan of many of Google’s programs: Earth, Picasa, Gmail, Analytics, and the list goes on and on. So as soon as Google Voice is released I’ll give it a shot; maybe just link one phone to it at first and see how it works. However, if you have privacy concerns, you are certainly not alone. The service does link your phone calls, your emails and your voicemail altogether and store them in a database. Although much of this information is already available somewhere in the cyber space, Google Voice makes them more accessible.