As of this week, Google Voice is now available for everyone. What a long and strange journey it has been for this one. Google Voice was not born in Google labs. It's an adopted child, formerly known as Grand Central.
Grand Central was a red hot webware startup company a number of years ago now. Back then, the little start-up was a web-based clearing house where you could sync up all your phone numbers and voicemail accounts. It was cool then, albeit a bit awkward to coordinate all your telephony on a PC.
Google bought Grand Central three years ago (almost to the day.. it was announced June 24th, 2007 to be exact). Since then the Grand Central brand went back to just being about the big train terminal in New York. The service itself went dormant for awhile and re-emerged as Google Voice, but in beta up until now.
1, Google Voice assigns you one master phone number to sync up with all your other phone numbers (cell, home, work, etc.). No more juggling multiple voicemail boxes or worrying which phone needs to be charged when the headhunter calls. You can program Google Voice to ring all or some of your lines, as you see fit.
2. It transcribes voicemails to text.
3. You can personalize different greetings for different contact groups (one for business contacts, one for friends, or yet even something more intimate for those, uh, more intimate relationships).
4. You can share voicemails via e-mail.
5. Use Google Voice for conference calls. Just have participants call into your Google Voice number and then put them on to the call with a touch of a button. No more long call-in numbers and access codes.
The digital world has changed dramatically since Grand Central was bought back in the summer of 2007. That was also the summer the first iPhone was released. Back then, it was all about Web 2.0. Now, its all about the apps. Google is offering Google Voice as an app for the Droid (of course), the iPhone and the Blackberry.