However, the benefits of these features are often offset by the hassle of getting a new phone number; that means new business cards, changes to the website, contacting everyone you know, etc. And with some services, if you're not careful, the number you jumped through hoops to publicize could be snatched up by another unsuspecting customer. I recently snagged a Skype number from a computer systems security firm. Woops.
Enter Google Voice. This product was formerly GrandCentral, and had quite a following among Android enthusiasts. Several numbers to one voice mail, advanced redirection options... It sounded pretty great. I signed up to be notified of the availability of more Grand Central accounts, but never heard back - new sign-ups were apparently frozen after GC was taken over by Google. Now, it's not uncommon to see people hawking Google Voice invites for as much as $500 online. I want GV, but I think I'll wait.
Back to the part about how Google solves this changing numbers problem. It's possible to switch an existing number over to Google Voice. This feature is currently offered to a small group of testers, but should roll out to all later. And the best part: Google Voice is free (though you may have to pay your carrier to take your number with you). Check out the review over at Tech Crunch for an idea of what to expect.
Transcribed voice mail, the ability to listen to voice mails from a browser, and the sending of SMS are a few of the tantalizing perks. A screen grab from Tech Crunch is below. I'll return with a review as soon as I get an account. Until then, check out Google's GV about page.