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3/11/2009
06:41 PM
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Google Voice Rises To Replace GrandCentral

New to the service will be the ability to receive SMS text messages sent to your Google Voice number on a mobile device, and sending messages from your Web-based Google Voice inbox.


Google Voice

Google Voice
(click for larger image)

Google's online voice-mail and call management system GrandCentral will be reborn on Thursday as Google Voice, with several new features.

The service will remain in private beta for existing GrandCentral users for a few more weeks. But after that, Google expects to open Google Voice to the general public.

In an interview at Google's San Francisco office, Craig Walker, senior product manager for Google's voice products, described Google Voice as a service that can help organize chaotic communication channels.

Google Voice, in keeping with Google's mission to organize the world's information, provides a single phone number that routes incoming calls to six of the user's phones at once. It also provides a single online in-box for voice-mail messages.

"A telephone number should be personal to you," said Walker. "And with everything in one inbox, you now have only one voice mail to check."

Google Voice inherits GrandCentral's many features, including the ability to screen calls as if in a room with an answering machine, to record calls and access those recordings online, to block unwanted callers, and to receive notifications of voice mail via e-mail or SMS.

It includes various personalization features, such as the ability to set how calls to one's Google Voice number are routed, based on time or caller. It also allows personalized greetings, per user or group, and the ability to personalize the ringing sound that callers hear while waiting for you to answer.

Google Voice also features GrandCentral's WebCall Button, for connecting a would-be callers phone to yours using a Web-based button, the ability to initiate a call from your online address book, and visual voice mail.

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