GrandCentral Reborn as Google Voice, a Suite of VoIP Services

45 Comments

voice-logoGrandCentral, a “one number for life” service provider acquired by Google (s GOOG) in July 2007 is being reborn as Google Voice, a comprehensive service that is essentially a Microsoft Office-type suite of communications-related services. I say that because the new service is a collection of VoIP-related features that one can typically get from different startups. New features include:

1. You can use your GrandCentral number to send and receive SMS messages, and have them forwarded to your current wireless phone. You can send messages from the mobile or from the phone.
2. Make phone calls using the web or your mobile/landline phone.
3. You can get transcripts for voicemails left on Google Voice. These transcripts, based on internal Google technology currently being used by GOOG-411 service, can be sent to you via SMS.
4. Create conference calls by dragging phone numbers onto existing calls. This will be useful for small businesses and web workers.
5. Free calls to all U.S. numbers. You can make international calls but that will cost you, depending on the country you are dialing.

googlevoice_inbox_croppedThe original GrandCentral features, such as voicemail screening and personalized greetings, are still available. Your voicemails can be emailed to you as attachments. Just as a warning, the upgrade to Google Voice won’t allow you to take your GrandCentral address book with you, since the new system uses Google Contacts. In addition, the service doesn’t work with those of you who have Google Apps accounts; you’ll need Gmail accounts. Lastly, they make you use Google Checkout to pay for international minutes. No thanks — I am happy paying with PayPal and/or credit cards.

At the time of the launch of the service, Vincent Paquet & Craig Walker, co-founders of the company had outlined this vision in a conversation back in 2006. With Google Voice, GrandCentral is truly becoming “one number for life.”

Bottom line: The Google folks upgraded my account, and after some heartburn, I got it working. As part of its new life as Google Voice, the GrandCentral web site has been redesigned to resemble Gmail, which I like mostly because, like many of you, I have become used to the sparse user interface. The SMS, voicemail and transcription services worked as advertised. The upgrades are truly worth the wait, and I have no hesitation in recommending this service to one and all.

45 Comments

Fred

:( google voice is coming soon:

Google Voice is a service that enhances the existing capabilities of your phone numbers. With it, you can access your voicemail online, read automatic transcriptions of your voicemail, create personalized greetings based on who is calling, make cheap international calls, and more.

I need an invitarion!

Confused

You mention they require the use of Google Checkout but you’d prefer to use a credit card.. Doesn’t Google Checkout allow you to pay by credit card? What am I missing?

Hardeep Singh Dang

@Om

I did found the option of importing the addressbook and its there on their blog too as to how to do it. Nevertheless I tried importing them in Gmail. Does the same thing.
@Josh Hoffman

Do not Disturb is still available in The Settings. I found it. Please check again.

Also an important note to ALL those people who are using GC outside US.
You will need an US IP address to get in the Google Voice 1st time if you are migrating from Grandcentral because it will show “Google Voice is not available in your country yet” and stuff.

Please make sure You have a US IP address when You access Google Voice for the 1st time. Once the setup and the switch over is done, you can login normally.

Monica

@ Om Malik

You omit the point in which I say that the service is not of Google, but google plays the role of a distributor in EU. In Spain we do not need distributors because already we have operators of telephony who give us this service and improve. Clear that after everything the first one they prove everything in EU and then they were entering on the Spanish market, and here already we are very tired of Google.

Sharvil Shah

To be honest, I feel Google is just rebranding GrandCentral with some added bells and whistles – kind of like adding last bit of momentum to a dying project (and possibly a bad acquisition by google)

thegeniusfiles

@Shakir: I can relate to your concern. However, thus far I have not seen any overt signs of a fascist Google agenda. Power, yes. But power does not automatically equal fascism. It certainly bears watching – but that is true of many more entities than just Google. The popular obsession with Google ignores this. We need a comprehensive approach, and even this may not be enough.

Shakir Razak

Hi,

The excitement over this press-release/hypefest is proportionate to the commentators ignorance of Unified-Communications.

Take away the Freebie from Google and the integration with Gmail, and there really isn’t anything unique, to other parts of the world, with services from “Personal Number Company” to J2, Wildfire (from Orange) TO Callwave, and et al.

THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES.

Separately, the idea of a single company knowing a users Browser-History, Their Email context/intelligence, and Now your full Call-History (social network inferred intelligence of who you’re calling) and actual Conversation-Tracking (like the email, and talk will be getting processed/recorded) will make Google more powerful and user-knowledgeable than any facist government.

Kind regards,

Shakir Razak

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