Google upgrades GrandCentral, launches Google Voice

Google upgrades GrandCentral, launches Google Voice

Summary: Updated: Google is taking a great service and making it better.Today, the company is unveiling GoogleVoice, a revamp of the GrandCentral Web-based phone service that it acquired back in 2007.


Updated: Google is taking a great service and making it better.

Today, the company is unveiling GoogleVoice, a revamp of the GrandCentral Web-based phone service that it acquired back in 2007. Last year, I called GrandCentral my favorite telecommuting tool and was thrilled when the company didn't cut it when it scaled down some services earlier this year. I use my GC number as my "work" number and have it set up to ring my home, office and cell phone numbers. It's the only number I use on my business card.

Up until today's announcement, Google really hadn't done much in terms of enhancing or upgrading GC's features. But with the upgrade to GoogleVoice, there will be new features that I hadn't even considered. Among them:

  • Automated voicemail transcriptions: Users can choose to receive free fully-automated transcriptions of voicemail messages that become searchable in the Google Voice inbox.
  • SMS messaging: Google Voice numbers can now accept SMS messages and forward them to your mobile device and in your Google Voice inbox and reply from either one, as well.
  • Conference calling: If you're on the phone and get another call, you can merge them - linking up to six people on a single call.
  • International calling: Place calls from your line and pay for them using Google Checkout
  • New forwarding features: Set up custom rules that allow you to determine when and where calls are routed, forcing calls to voicemail late at night, ringing on the cell phone only during off-peak hours and at the office during work hours.
  • Gmail Contacts: Google Voice integrates contacts from the Gmail address book.

I've been a fan of GrandCentral for a long time, largely because I see it as useful tool for the mobile and virtual worker. The Web economy has created an always-on, always-connected, always-available sort of work mentality. The new tools in Google Voice allow the flexibility of being connected no matter when or where without losing the capability to disconnect when it's time to step away.

Google Voice is a free service. Existing GrandCentral customers will migrate over in the next few days and the service - which had been in closed beta - will open up to users in the U.S. over the  next couple of weeks. It will be integrated with Google accounts (meaning your Gmail user name and password will work).

Topics: CXO, Browser, Cloud, Collaboration, Google, Hardware, Mobility, Telcos, IT Employment

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  • Google Accounts

    For the record, if you don't have a Gmail address (or do but don't want to use it with a Google Account) you can use ANY email address to sign up for Google Accounts.
  • Google Rocks

    Google Rocks on whatever it starts with. Google Voice is going to be one more milestone for Google Inc.

    -Kathiravan Manoharan
    • Catch up

      Too bad all these features are just playing catch up with other platforms that have had all of this (and more) for awhile, including UCS and others.

      There was a time when Google was leading in the web space, now they've bitten off so much they're playing catch up in most spaces now.
  • RE: Google upgrades Grand Central, launches Google Voice

    Sounds neat, but is it like a number of other cool features (the former notebook, themes, photo galleries, etc.) that won't work with a Google Apps account?
  • Not yet ready for all...

    Even though I am Grand Central user (one of the first ones!),
    I still do not have an option in my Inbox to connect my Grand
    Central account to Google Voice and actually use the new
    services :(

    This sucks :(

    • impatient

      They just announced it a day or so ago. They said it will take a little time to migrate accounts and offer the switch.

      Can you possibly be more impatient?
  • FAX?

    For an all in 1 number I would need to accept fax.

    Will this offering do that? I have another UC service that does.

    - Mark
  • Fax is dying and almost dead

    A cheap flatbed scanner and email is all one needs to send images of original documents, and have people send documents as PDF or TIF attachments to email. I haven't owned a Fax machine in 10+ years, and have never needed one
  • RE: Google upgrades Grand Central, launches Google Voice

    I like my number but Google's customer service leaves a lot to be desired.
    My sister applied for a number over a year ago, never heard another word. Would it have been that difficult to send users and wannabe users occasional updates?
  • Woo Hoo!

    I just heard of this today, and the first thing I did was get on the waiting list. This will solve all sorts of communication problems for me. My house doesn't have cell service, but I spend at least 12 hours a day away from home, where the office receptionist screens my calls. I only pick up cell phone calls from numbers I recognize, but when those people call, they REALLY need to talk to me. Sometimes they have called 3 different numbers to find me.

    My first thought was, "How much does it cost?" When I found out it was free, I was astonished. This is the first Google app I was actually eager to pay for.
    Larry Caldwell
  • neato

    It doesn't look like they launched to the public though.
  • First off...

    I love Google. Everything that they do just
    seems amazing and I just love to use their
    products. But I can't help but think that with
    all of their services, they could very well be
    our "big brother". Remember that phrase, "Big
    Brother is watching."? Well, this just seems
    like another way they will be able to collect
    information on our lives... Really, I will see
    if I have any use for this product of theirs
    and will most likely use it. It's just that
    this issue never leaves my head... Call me
    paranoid if you must!
  • RE: Google upgrades Grand Central, launches Google Voice

    This free service sounds like a good thing. I'll have to give it a try.