Google’s innovative telecommunications service, Google Voice, allows easy management of multiple phone numbers, blocks telemarketers, makes inexpensive global phone calls and even provides voicemail transcription. However, these conveniences came at a steep price that many people were unwilling to pay: it required users to get a new phone number. In a move to entice more users to the service, Google is offering a less comprehensive version of their services that allows users to keep their existing phone number.
Google says that participants in the new program will be able to use the company’s online voicemail service instead of their cell phone provider’s voicemail. This service is central to the services, as users will be able to read their voicemails online, save them, play them back, forward them to a designated email in-box or receive them as a text message on a mobile device. They will also be able to save these massages, search them and forward messages to others.
By providing this ‘lighter’ version of the Voice services, Google is responding to hackers and tech bloggers who had already figured out how to use some of the services. The hackers told users to forward unanswered calls to their Google Voice number via the call forwarding features offered by nearly every cell phone service provider. Google adopted the technique, thereby making it easier for their Voice clients to use.
“Up to now, you could have done it on your own,” said Vincent Paquet, one of the engineers who created Google Voice. “We optimized our system.” Google’s approach is simpler, he said, and doesn’t require users to sign up for a Google Voice number at all.