Google June 22 made its Google Voice application available to anyone who wants to use it, capping one year of gradual rollouts that began with select invitees, then to military personnel and students.
Google Voice is a Web calling and phone management application. The program, which is used by more than 1.4 million people in the world, gives users one number to ring their home, work and mobile phones.
The apps also lets users make free calls and text messages in the United States and Canada, and make low-cost international calls, among other capabilities.
Calls and messages can be accessed and managed through a phone or a Web browser, allowing users to listen to messages, forward messages, add a caller to an address book or block a caller as spam, and transcribe voicemail messages.
To this point, users had to request and receive an invite to try Google Voice. Google wanted to be sure it put the infrastructure in place to handle a rollout to the general public, Google Voice Product Manager Vincent Paquet told eWEEK.
Moreover, Paquet and his team wanted to add a number of capabilities along the way.
These included an HTML5-based mobile Web app (created after Apple rejected the original Google Voice for iPhone app), the ability to use Google Voice with an existing number, an integrated voicemail player to play messages in Gmail, and smaller perks such as SMS to e-mail and the Google Voice extensions for Google's Chrome Web browser.
While Google Voice has come a long way, Paquet said he and his team are working hard to shore up the app's future. Google acquired Gizmo5, which makes a Web-based VOIP (voice over IP) client that lets users make phone calls over the Internet.
Paquet declined to say how the Gizmo5 assets are being leveraged. Gizmo5 would give Google Voice the capability to enable one computer to call another, or the computer to call any phone, similar to Skype. Google Voice used Gizmo5 to connect endpoints before acquiring the company.
"We designed Google Voice to be endpoint-agnostic and we certainly want it to be accessible from any type of endpoint, not just phones," Paquet said. "The direction in which we are going to keep working is to use the Web, which is probably the best UI there is in the world, to give you more control and personalization over your communications."