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Google Voice is a telecommunications service by Google launched on 11 March 2009. The service provides a U.S. phone number, chosen by the user from available numbers in selected area codes, free of charge to each user account. Inbound calls to this number are forwarded to other phone numbers of the subscriber. Outbound calls may be placed to domestic and international destinations by dialing the Google Voice number or from a web-based application. Inbound and outbound calls to U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii) and Canada are free of charge. International calls are billed according to a schedule posted on the Google Voice website.
The service is configured and maintained by the user in a web-based application, styled after Google's e-mail service, Gmail. Users must have an established U.S. telephone service to activate Google Voice. Users must configure this and optionally, additional phone numbers that ring simultaneously when the Google Voice number receives a call. The user may answer and receive the call on any of the ringing phones. Google Voice provides additional features such as voicemail, call history, conference calling, call screening, blocking of unwanted calls, and voice transcription to text of voicemail messages. Received calls may be moved between configured telephones during a call.
Google Voice is only available for users in the United States. Users may select a single U.S. phone number from various area codes. Incoming calls to the number may ring simultaneously any, all or none of the user's configured phones. Based on the calling number, or contact group (e.g., Family, Friends, Work), or on time of day (e.g., disabling a home phone during business hours and routing calls to mobile or business number), individual numbers may be configured to ring. The service also features centralized voicemail and indexable, automated voicemail transcription, accessible by PC or phone. Google Voice provides automatic blocking of known numbers, e.g., telemarketers, the ability to switch lines in mid-call, differentiated voice mail greetings based on caller, SMS forwarding, and call recording. Additionally, customers of Gizmo5, a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) service vendor, may forward calls to their Gizmo service which may be answered using a free computer application (or a web application) or forwarded to any GoogleTalk, Skype or other SIP service.
Similar in concept, free Personal Numbering services have been available in the UK since 1993. It is also similar to the AT&T True Connections 500 service offered in the 1990s. AT&T's service required the direct involvement of AT&T to change the phone number list, while the Google service is user configurable on the web application.
The voice of Google Voice belongs to actress/voiceover artist Laurie Burke. Burke has been the voice of the system from the very beginning, when it was Grand Centra