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As a viable Skype competitor, and a strategic product in Google’s growing army of mobile technologies, Google Voice first hit the U.S. market last year, allowing people to make calls right from within their Gmail account at competitive rates. This week, the service began a phased international rollout, with Google announcing earlier this month that it’s now available to 150 countries (in 38 different languages).
The UK rollout is now (at least partially) live, and I was able to trial the service from within my Gmail account earlier today. Calls to UK mobiles are priced at £0.07p, less than half Skype’s (£0.15p) rate. The quality of the call was superb, and it’s definitely worth investigation from both a business, and personal use perspective as a serious Skype competitor. In comparison with some of the carriers rates for landline to mobile calls, it’s an absolute no brainer.
Some of the additional technologies that Google Voice brings to the table also make it attractive. For example, voicemails are automatically transcribed to text with voice recognition technologies. This means you could for example, choose to read messages rather than listen to them whilst watching a movie, or if you are in a noisy place.
Google voice is also available on Android and iPhone mobile devices, however, I personally wasn’t able to get this up and running alongside the desktop version. (This is either on the horizon, or I’m being an idiot – you guys may have more success).
It will be interesting to see if Google decide to release a home phone product, that allows both traditional calls, AND internet based ones to compliment their Google Voice strategy. At least here in Ireland, even with mobile phone adoption as high as it is, it doesn’t seem like regular landlines are going anywhere anytime soon.