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Though it won't come with all the features, Google Voice is now usable with users' current numbers
Google announced Monday night that Google Voice users can now decide whether to switch to a new phone number ("a Google number") or to retain their old phone number.
Those who opt for a Google number will be rewarded with the complete set of features offered by Google Voice, including call recording, call screening, and receiving text messages via email.
For the rest of us, who find it just too inconvenient to change phone numbers yet again, Google is now offering "a lighter version of Google Voice," which cuts down on the above features while saving others, like Google voicemail.
One of the coolest aspects of Google Voice, Google voicemail drastically improves upon a dreadfully old technology by making interaction between user and voice messages more fluid. While a user can still listen to messages on the phone one at a time and in order, Google voicemail allows one to listen to the same messages on the computer in any order. Additionally, Google automatically transcribes all voice messages and sends them to the user as an email or text message, for later reading, starring, or searching--just like any message in Gmail. On top of everything, Google enables users to create personalized greetings for various callers.
Don't get too excited just yet: Google Voice is still an invite-only application.
Notably, a momentous and ongoing FCC investigation of Apple's failure to approve Google Voice for the iPhone remains unresolved, while, in a related development, iPhone carrier AT&T has turned the tables on Google, complaining to the FCC that the Web giant is trying to evade traditional telecom laws and Net Neutrality rules that other telecommunications companies must follow. Google's main argument is that Google Voice is a free Web application designed to supplement traditional telecommunications, not replace them.
Either way, it'll be interesting to note whether all these issues are resolved by the time Google opens Google Voice to the general public.
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