This past March, Google rebranded the acquired GrandCentral as Google Voice with the promise of expanded service and features in the future. They’re making good on that promise with the release of mobile apps for Android and Blackberry phones.
The app incorporates contacts and enables phone calls and text messaging directly from the app. It uses Wifi or data capabilities to conduct calls and SMS.
Google Voice touts its major benefit as being able to have one phone number to forward all your phone calls, voice messages and text messages to. The idea is that you don’t have to worry about changing phone numbers. But since porting phone numbers is possible among carriers, I’m not sure how much value this really is. It’s likely more convenient, but, of course, it will be personal preference if shelling out the moolah for the service is worth it.
Another feature Google Voice highlights is visual voicemail, but this is hardly revolutionary at this point, since the iPhone has been offering it since inception two years ago.
The real value is in the ability to transcribe messages, which of course enables search of messages. And this is where Google’s strength really lies, no?
If you don’t have an Android or Blackberry, you can access Google Voice via web at http://www.google.com/voice. It’s only currently available to U.S. users and is also only available by invite, which you can request.
What do you think of the new Google Voice apps? Share your thoughts in the comments.