Goggle today finally released Google Voice, a service that allows you to manage your SMS, Calls, manage your voice mail etc. Google Voice is the new avatar of GrandCentral, the telephony service company that Google acquired in July 2007. This will include all the service that GrandCentral was providing and in addition, Google Voice will also include an automated voicemail transcription service, the ability to send and receive text messages, and integration with your Gmail contacts. Users can now also call any number in the the U.S. for free.
The new interface is very similar to Gmail, with your inbox, SMS messages, access to voicemail and other features in a sidebar on the left.
You can make calls directly from the Google Voice web interface. After you initiate the call, the service will actually first call your mobile phone or landline, and after that your call will be placed over Google’s network.
Calls within the U.S. will remain free, and users can purchase credit to make international calls (we don’t have information about the international rates yet, but we assume that they will be competitive with those that Skype currently offers).
The automated voicemail transcription feature looks like it will be one of the most useful functions of Google Voice. Transcriptions are fully automated and Google will mark passages in the text where the algorithm was not very confident about the transcription. Transcriptions will automatically appear in your inbox, but Google Voice can also email them to you, or even send you an SMS with the text.
We can’t help but wonder if Google will integrate the voicemail and transcription service with Android as well. In this video, Google shows the mobile version of Google Voice in the browser on an Android phone, but we assume that Google will release a dedicated Google Voice app for Android in the future and maybe even make it an integral part of the Android experience (if the carriers allow Google to do so, that is).