This is an interesting convergence of technologies that have now been around for some time. There are many applications on the market that does voice to text conversion and vice versa. Now google is going a step further and letting people search their voicemails.
Google Voice gives you a single number streamlining your work, home and mobile phones and lets you store transcripts of voicemail phone messages in your email inbox.
Using speech-recognition technology, it will even let you search those messages for a snippet of information just as if you were trawling a sea of emails.
It will also let you make free local and cheap international calls, as well as consult Goog411, the company's free U.S. directory enquiries service.
Google Voice is based on technology originally launched by Grand Central Communications, a company bought up by Google nearly two years ago.
The acquisition had taken so long to bear fruit that observers were starting to suspect it had come to nothing.
Like the original Grand Central product, Google Voice offers consumers a single phone number that can route incoming calls to home, office and mobile phones.
Domestic calls will be free but international calls will require users to set up a Google Checkout account. Calls to landlines in the UK will cost 2 cents per minute.
EBay's Skype offers free domestic and international calls made over the internet from one computer to another, but there is a charge to landlines and mobile phones.
Skype president Josh Silverman told analysts and investors that "chat and voice will become table stakes". He also revealed that the company is adding 350,000 new users a day and is on track to do more than 100 billion calling minutes in 2009 alone.
Google does not view the service as a threat to Skype or other telecom companies any more than its Google Talk offering, which lets users chat over the internet for free.
"This is about allowing your existing phone to work better," said Craig Walker, now group product manager for real time communications at Google and co-founder of GrandCentral.
"It's not that we are replacing your phone, we are giving [it] the ability to work better," he said.
He declined to say how many users had signed up. Google Voice is currently only available to former GrandCentral users.
Google Voice also allows all voice messages to be turned into text which will then be sent either through an e-mail or an sms.
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