I just read on TechCrunch that Google Voice is finally being released to the “general public”. If you haven’t had a chance to use Google Voice (Formerly GrandCentral), I would highly encourage you to check it out. You may not end up using the service, but just to see how it works is really cool.
The idea is that you get one phone number, and you can pretty much use that phone number for life. Because Google Voice is a “service on top of your phone service”, it means that your number is never really tied to your physical phone itself. Instead, you point any number of phones to your Google Voice number, and when you call that phone number, it rings all of your assigned phones simultaneously.
That is just one feature among a huge pile of totally crazy things you can do with this service. Setup a single voice mail, or voice mail messages for groups or even individuals. Because the service remembers who people are based on their incoming phone number, it can play a custom greeting that you record for each person you receive calls from.
There are some limitations with the service however. Right now it works best for incoming calls better than outgoing calls. Because most people’s phones aren’t totally web based, making calls from a software user interface isn’t very practical. That is pretty much the only way to make outbound calls right now. I haven’t checked but this could completely change if they come out with an iPhone and/or Android application that you can use instead of the native dialer.
I’ve been using the service off and on for over a year now and I’m still impressed with it. I can’t stop thinking about how this is going to completely change the traditional way in which phone services are delivered. Just like my post on Videoconferencing a few weeks ago, this is completely changing the game for communications.