Pogue's Posts - The Latest in Technology From David Pogue July 16, 2009, 2:34 pm
Updates to Google Voice
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Google Voice. To refresh your memory, I quote myself:
"Google Voice began life in 2005 as something called GrandCentral. It was intended to solve the headaches of having more than one phone number (home, work, cellphone and so on). GrandCentral's grand solution was to offer you a new, single, unified phone number, in an area code of your choice. Whenever somebody dialed your new uni-number, all of your phones rang at once.
"No longer did people have to track you down by dialing multiple numbers; no matter where you were, your uni-number found you. As a bonus, all voicemail messages landed in a single voicemail box, on the Web.
"GrandCentral also let you record a different voicemail greeting for each person in your address book. You could also specify which phones would ring when certain people called. (For the really annoying people in your life, you could even tell GrandCentral to answer with the classic, three-tone 'The number you have dialed is no longer in service' message.)
"For people with complicated lives, GrandCentral was a breath of fresh air. It felt like a secret power that nobody else had."
Then, after Google bought GrandCentral and unveiled an improved version a year later, I wrote: "Google Voice maintains all of the original GrandCentral features - but introduces game-changing new ones."
The new features included free transcriptions of your voicemail (the text of those messages gets sent to you by e-mail and text message); free conference calling; dirt-cheap international calls (2 cents a minute to France or China, for example); and, perhaps most profoundly, Web-based sending and storing of all your text messages. That's a first in cellphone history; for most people, text messages scroll away off the phone after 20 of them or so, with no way to capture them.
Anyway: today, some updates.