Lots of mobile news lately - a $99 iPhone (sort of) and the Palm Pre got a lot of attention this past week. And yet another free service from Google called Voice was unveiled.
It starts by unifying your home, work and mobile phone numbers. Hurrah, no more missed calls. Of course, that includes that one from your boss ("Yeah. It's just we're putting new coversheets on all the TPS reports before they go out now. So if you could go ahead and try to remember to do that from now on, that'd be great.") It's what David Pogue called in the NY Times, "One Number To Ring Them All."
Google Voice is not brand new. In an earlier incarnation it was called GrandCentral. But Voice offers more. In fact, my Office Spacemessage from the boss above shouldn't happen if you use the service correctly. You should be able to select a single U.S. phone number and when that number is called, any (or all) of your phones can be set to ring. You can set which phone(s) ring based on the calling number, or a contact group (family, friends, work, etc), or even based on the time of day. So, you could disable your home phone during work hours (if there even is such a thing any more) and have calls routed to your business number.
And there are many other features: Free calls and SMS in the contiguous US. All your voicemail in one place. Call screening that announces callers based on their number Answer an incoming call on any of your phones. Forwarding phones Read voicemails (yes, they are transcribed) online Make personalized greetings that vary by caller (You might want one just for blocked telemarketer!) Conference calling "GOOG-411", check directory assistance.
The official info from Google on this right now is that:
Google Voice is currently available for GrandCentral users only, but will be open to new users soon. In the meantime, please leave us your email address and we'll notify you as soon as Google Voice becomes available. To learn more about Google Voice, check out our feature videos.