Sunday, March 15, 2009

GrandCentral Upgrades To Google Voice!

Update 2: Google now DOES have free calls to Canada.
Update: Someone just pointed out that Google Voice does not offer free calls to Canada! So, if you call Canada often, you might want to hold off on upgrading for as long as possible, as GrandCentral does offer free calls to Canada.

As you probably know, I really like GrandCentral. Like many people, I was starting to get worried as Google hasn't upgraded GrandCentral for almost a year. The update finally arrived in the form of Google Voice!
As of now, Google Voice is only available to current GrandCentral users. It should be available to the general public within a few weeks. I will most definitely keep you updated. You can request a invite here.

Google Voice is an upgrade to Grand Central. This service gives you a free local number, and you can forward calls that come to your Google Voice number to whichever phone you want. It has lots of great and useful features. Read my review here.

They will be keeping all the old features of GrandCentral. Plus, here are some of the new features they added on:

Read Your Voicemail

Google will transcribe and email your voicemail, so you can read them! I tried it, and it wasn't too accurate, but still really cool. Google will actually gray out words that they're not sure about.

Text Messaging
You can receive and send text messages to your Google Voice number.

Make Calls Direct From Your Phone
Until now, you could only make calls by clicking online. Now, you can also call your Google Voice number from your regular phone and then press 2 to call any US or Canadian number. For free.

International Calling
Not free, but very cheap. So, you can call your Google Voice number from your cellphone and call international! Comes preloaded with $1 credit to call international. Calling within the US is staying free! International calling rates.

No More "Press 1 To Accept The Call"
Some people don't like having to press 1 to accept the call. With Google Voice you will be able to disable that, and just answer the phone like a regular call.

One Contact List
When upgrading to Google Voice, you will need to use a Google account. If you use a Gmail account, then Google Voice will integrate your Gmail contacts. So you can have all your contacts in one place. This feature still has some kinks, as when you look at your contact list, you don't see if the person's name has an email address or a phone number, unless you hover over their name with the mouse.

Note: You will need export your contacts from GrandCentral and import them to Google Voice.

Links to check out:
Short video clips explaining the different features.
Article at New York Times about Google Voice
Exporting your contacts from GrandCentral, and importing them to Google Voice
And... Google Voice: Press "1" to invade your privacy

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