Awhile back Google bought Grand Central. I have been using the service and it has been working well. Google is now marketing the service as Google Voice (http://www.google.com/voice). It is still isn’t open for the public, but if you are a Grand Central user, you may be able to upgrade by logging in to your Grand Central account and choosing the Google account you want to associate it with.
Some of the new features:
- Transcribed voicemail – it appears to be done by a computer so it isn’t as accurate as services like Skydeck, but it should still be useful.
- SMS Messages – you can send and receive SMS messages from your Grand Central number. This is a big advantage if you use Skype because you can set Skype to use your Grand Central number as you outgoing caller ID. When someone calls you can answer on Skype or on your cell phone or whatever other phone you have it setup to ring.
- Free US Calls – you can type in a number you want to call and Google will call your number and then connect you with the number you want to talk to. Pretty good deal if you have unlimited incoming calls on your cell phone. International calls are charged a fee and it looks like they give you $1.00 to start out with.
- Routing based on contact group - It looks like you can set your group of friends to ring your phone, your wife’s to ring her phone and family to ring both.
- Call me widget – You can add some code to you website that people can click, type in their number and then start up a phone call with you.
- Mobile access - There is a website optimized for use from a cell phone at www.google.com/voice/m.
- Custom greetings – You can give different callers different greetings. So you can do things like tell family you are away on vacation, but just ask other callers to leave a message.
If we could combine Skydeck, Google Voice and Skype, it would be the killer communication package.