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Google Voice gets Android guestlist

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Google Voice has arrived on Android and BlackBerry as a dedicated application - despite the service still being an invitation-only gig.

The Google Voice application offers proper integration with the address book, showing your Google Voice number to people you're calling. It aims to provide punters with a single phone number which is then forwarded to the number(s) on which they wish to receive calls.

The idea is to have a number for life that gets forwarded to anywhere you happen to be, while Google takes care of voicemail and messaging including transcriptions of incoming messages into text.

The service, which is still in an invitation-only beta, was already available on mobiles through a web interface, but the new application offers much better integration as well as the critical function of showing the user's Google Voice number to Caller ID systems. That applies to text messages too - routed through Mountain View and thus ensuring that any reply is also ready for analysis.

Calls and messages are still carried over the mobile network, just routed through Google's service, so they remain chargeable. The service remains limited to American shores where the recipient chips in towards the cost of the call - such a service would have a hard time in Europe where Google would have to pay the full cost of every call forwarded.

BT does offer a similar service, but charges the user for every call forwarded as well as being unable to offer that critical Caller ID function. Google offers the service for free, with the intention of making money through adverts displayed throughout, and even greater user profiling.

But generating revenue is in the future - for now Google needs to sort out number portability, so you can migrate one of your existing numbers into Google Voice. And, of course, they'll be wanting an iPhone version of the client too. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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