Google Voice used to be one of Google's best tools: The idea of having a single phone number for all of your devices was handy and uncomplicated in a time of extremely frequent communication. Unfortunately, over the years, Google let the nifty little voice service fall into relative disrepair -- until today, that is.
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Mobile data is, for most people, cheap. It's cheaper than most mobile plans' included call credit, especially if you're calling someone in another country, and especially if you're on free Wi-Fi. If you have an Android phone, the international might of Google is making it easier for you to place telephone calls, both locally and internationally, without falling prey to your mobile carrier's convoluted rates.
A few weeks ago, I saw a demo of the best messaging system yet. One where SMS and non-SMS messages, all calls, come to all your devices automatically. It only had one major flaw. It's trapped on an iPhone.
Sure, that other voice-operated phone utility's been getting a lot of coverage lately, but that doesn't mean that Google Voice Search doesn't work at all. In fact, in tests in the middle of Australia and the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef, Google's shown just how well it can work.
Engadget reports that Google just planted the latest version of Google Voice into the Android Market, fully optimised to work with Honeycomb. Took them bloody long enough, no?
When Google launched their Voice service a couple of years ago, people made a big deal about what their move into the telecom world meant. In a print-only interview with New Scientist Peter Norvig, Google's head of research, he said the main reason they launched the service was so they could better learn how to transcribe human voice to text.
Google Voice recently started offering number porting, but in a limited test. Today, number porting is available for all users. Current Voice users can port their cell phone number to Google Voice for a $US20 fee, so none of your contacts have to learn a new number for you.
Google initially rolled out free voice calls in Gmail (via Google Voice) as something they would offer through 2010. Now, "in the spirit of holiday giving", they've extended free calling through all of 2011.