You may have heard about all of the cool features that come with Google Voice, the one-number-for-life service that allows you to transfer calls to any phone. But for those who aren't willing to start over with a new phone number, Google is offering the next best thing to actual number porting (which it's not offering at this time.) (Blog entry, Techmeme)
The company is opening the voicemail part of Google Voice to the masses, allowing people to route unanswered phone calls into the Google Voice voicemail service. Yes, you can still access your messages through your phone - but now you can also get them in a Web interface that allows you to save audio files of the messages, forward them or even set up customized greetings for specific callers.
Google also is touting its voicemail transcription service, which allows users to receive transcripts of the messages online or via SMS text. As much as I'm a fan of Google Voice, the transcription service leaves a lot to be desired. Once in a while I can make out keywords in a transcription but for the most part they make no sense at all.
Consider this excerpt from a recent voice message I received:
"Hey, Just wanting to touch base with you. Gosh, I think the last time I saw you was (pause) was it this year or was it last year? I know I ended up running into you at some demo event in the city and you had just relocated back from DC to here."
This was the transcript from Google Voice:
"Hey, Just wanting to touch base with you, fax I think the last time I saw you with the ZIP this error was it last year. I know I ended up my name into you. It's Sam demo event here in the city. Anyway, I just relocated back from the C T here."
I try to give Google very little grief about the transcription service because 1) it's just an added bonus to a service that I very much like and 2) it's largely been a service that's still being refined as the company slowly rolls out invitations. But if Google is going to start offering the voicemail service more broadly, it really needs to step up its game on that transcription service.
As usual, Google has put together a fun video to explain how it works.