GrandCentral Becomes Google Voice, Adds Features

Last Updated Mar 12, 2009 10:31 AM EDT

Ever wish you could have the same phone number for the rest of your life? And that you could make that number ring your home office, work office, and/or mobile phone at the same time? That's the idea behind GrandCentral, a much-loved service that Google acquired way back in 2007. And after a seemingly endless wait, changes and improvements are finally afoot. That's good news, but there's a bit of bad as well.

For starters, GrandCentral will soon become Google Voice. It has the same seriously impressive set of features along with a couple new ones, including the voicemail-transcription option shown in the above video.

Plus, you can now make free outbound calls to U.S. numbers and cheap calls overseas. And SMS messages sent to your Google Voice number can be viewed on one or more mobile phones:

As far as we know, GrandCentral -- er, Google Voice -- will remain free, which is amazing given its feature set. So what's the bad news? Unless you're already have a GrandCentral account, you can't get it -- yet. The Official Google Blog says Google Voice will be open to others "soon," but that could be weeks or months.

Needless to say, we'll let you know when you can get in on the action and how to make the most of it for your business. Stay tuned.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.