I just received an e-mail this evening inviting me to try out Google Voice
(USA Only for now). I'd never heard of it until I received the invitation and I'm not even sure how I got signed up to be invited. I wasn't invited by any specific person.
So what is Google Voice
? To be honest, I'm still not entirely sure. They gave me a free local phone number that anybody can call (and it was activated immediately). I can set it up to forward to any of my "real" phone numbers. When I signed up, I started out with a voicemail in my inbox, which was automatically transcribed for me:
Welcome to Google Voice! Google Voice gives you a single phone number that rings all your phones, saves your voicemail online, and transcribes your voicemail to text. Other cool features include the ability to listen in on messages while they are being left and the ability to make low cost international calls. To start enjoying Google Voice, just give out your Google Voice number. You can record custom greetings for your favorite callers or block annoying callers by marking them as SPAM. Just click on the settings link at the top of your inbox. We hope you enjoy Google Voice.
Here are a few things I think sound cool about the service: Since I already have a Google Android phone (G1) all my contacts in my phone are in my Gmail and in my Google Voice account. Also, there's an application for the Android phones so that you can have the mobile phone use Google Voice for all calls, international calls only, or no calls. And I can put a call widget online:
Call Widgets can be put on any web page, and allow people to call from that web page. When somebody clicks on the widget, we call them and connect them to you. Your number is always kept private. You can create multiple call widgets and have different settings for each of them.
The about page says that Google Voice invitations are only being sent out to users of Google GrandCentral, but I've never heard of that until today. Maybe I was invited because I'm using a G1? Or maybe I signed up for something several months ago and simply forgot entirely about it? I don't know. But Google Voice seems interesting, so I'm going to start using it and see how it goes.