Google Voice Rolls Out New Message System
Google Voice wants to take a message for you.
The Internet search giant is expanding its voice application - which lets you use one Google-supplied phone number to manage calls on several phones - to work with your existing cell phone number.
After directing your Google Voice account to pick up voice mails, rather than relying on your cell phone provider, Google will transcribe your messages and send an e-mail notification after new messages are recorded.
Previously this feature was only available by signing up for a new Google Voice phone number.
"There's always going to be a subset of people who don't want to change their phone number," says Google senior product manager Vincent Paquet.
Google Voice, available since March, was created to tie all of a subscriber's phone numbers - home, work, cell phone, etc. - into one new Google Voice number.
Once your contacts start calling the new number, all the phones ring, and you get to choose which one you want to pick up. Voice mail is tied into all of the phones, with transcripts and a visual index by Google of all the calls that have come in.
Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester Research, says that without the obstacle of changing phone numbers, more folks will give Voice a try. Still, he says, "They won't get the full benefit of the service, which is tying all your phones into one. All they're doing is replacing one voice mail provider with another."
Voice, like Gmail when it was first launched, for now is only available on an "invitation" basis, by registering a request at voice.google.com. Paquet wouldn't reveal any data about Google Voice's usage except to say that "millions" of invitations have been sent out.
Registrants should receive their invites within days of signing up, he added.
To tie your cell phone to Google Voice:
Go to the settings tab at voice.google.com and change it to pair your cell phone voice mail with Voice. A code will be given to type into your phone to do this.
Google Voice has been in the news often over the last few months over a tussle with Apple that caught the government's attention. Google developed a Google Voice application for the iPhone. Apple didn't approve the app, causing the Federal Communications Commission to investigate.
Paquet said he still hopes the app eventually will be approved by Apple.
"I have no information to make us believe it will be anytime soon," he says.