Internet giant Google has launched a preview of Google Voice, a new service designed to help people better manage their voice communications by providing a single number for all calls and messages, as well as a feature that can transcribe voicemail messages and send them to users as email. The service is built on top of GrandCentral, which Google acquired all the way back in 2007, and marks another step in Google’s plans to branch out from its core Internet search business into new services.
Google Voice is currently only available to existing GrandCentral uses, and uses speech recognition technology that Google originally developed for its Goog-411 directory assistance service. The speech recognition system can automatically transcribe voicemail messages into text form, and send them to users as email or SMS messages. Like the original GrandCentral service—for which Google Voice is the first major upgrade since their acquisition—Google voice will also offer users a single number that can be used to route incoming calls for work, cell phones, and a home phone. The service also enables folks to listen in real time as callers leave voicemail messages, making it easy to decide whether they really want to take a call.
Google plans to open up Google Voice to the general public in the next few weeks. Right now Google Voice doesn’t tie into any of Google’s revenue-generating operations: aside from billing users for long distance calls, the service doesn’t tie into any of Google advertising operations. Google says it plans to offer the service to consumers for free, and worry about monetizing aspects of Google Voice further down the road.