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The eagle has landed. I finally got my Google Voice invitation on Wednesday and boy, was I happy. Within twenty seconds I was searching for numbers containing favorable words in my area code. Yeah, I know it's actually more difficult to dial by letter on many mobiles these days, but I wanted something cool and memorable. Wouldn't you?

I figure many readers have been anticipating their own invites or signed up when it was GC. But for those who not aware of Google Voice, I'll offer up a quick run-down of the history and features.

GV started as GrandCentral and did pretty well with the Android community before Google snatched it up and and put the kibosh on new registrations. Since then people have been lining up in droves on the GV waiting list, and just now the velvet rope is being lifted for a few thousand at a time. Google recently purchased over one million numbers for the service, which indicates readiness (and leads to the vanity number search).

So why the excitement? because Google Voice could represent the last time you switch to a new phone number for all of eternity. O.K., maybe not, but if you want to keep the same number and just update the forwarding numbers over the years, you can. And better yet you can assign contacts to groups, each of which can hear their own greeting, be sent to different forwarding numbers, or ignored.

One missing feature that I'd really like to see is an Unknown Caller group, or even in/out of area code groups, so I could make a funny message for new friends without putting off the electric company or someone else that deserves the straight treatment. I'd also like to be able to use my number publicly without having some kid wake me up with fart sounds at 3 a.m., following up every three minutes thereafter.

I did get a great number, after all. And I think that outside of having transcribed voice mails sent to my email address, the ability to screen calls via the caller's self identification message, and a software interface for my vm inbox, the vanity number is my favorite feature...so far. I'll get a video together once I really know the ins and outs of the service and software. So far, it's all good.

I wish I could post the recent visual voice mail videos, but they have been yanked.


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