Google has recently announced the availability of a new voice application that will help users unite their voice communications. The service, called Google Voice, is built on GrandCentral technology that Google acquired back in July 2007.
Google Voice users will be able to get transcripts of their voice applications as well as archive and search all SMS text messages that they have sent or received. Users will also be able to make free domestic calls and low cost international calls and use the Google Directory assistance service GOOG-411.
To begin with, Google Voice will only be available to current users of GrandCentral.
GrandCentral already provides many interesting facilities to its users, such as a single number that can call up to 6 lines, allowing users to be contacted via a single number that forwards calls to all the possible numbers they can possibly be reached on, including a home, mobile and office number; a central voicemail inbox that can be accessed online and the ability to screen calls by listening to voicemail while it is being recorded.
Voice transcription is done by a computer. The results are not yet perfect, as can be seen in the demo video below, but it is good enough to allow users to recognise the name of the caller and the gist of the message. Apart from the audio recording the message is also sent to the users email and phone via text message.
One can also make conference calls with up to 4 callers, through Google Voice. The caller just dials a Google number and the conference call owner adds them to the call.
At present, the voicemail service is free and international calls are as low as 2 cents per minute to call the U.K. Craig walker, Senior Product Manager for Google says, “Google doesn’t have a current plan to monetise the service. The mission is to make Google users happy.”
This new facility from Google is certainly going to give competition to Skype. It could also be perceived as a threat by a number of traditional and mobile telecommunications companies, and will at least prompt some providers to offer more add-on services for free.
GrandCentral users are already being sent instructions about how they can use Google Voice. Others interested in this service can send their email address to Google and they will be notified when the service is made widely available.