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Google Voice offers cheap VoIP calls

Service only available to GrandCentral customers in US

Google has launched a VoIP service for mobile phone users that looks set to rival apps from Skype and Truphone.

The service offers the ability to make free local and cheap international calls that are routed through the internet and providing you with one number that receives any calls, whether they are to your home, work, or mobile number

The service also automatically transcribes a voicemail into text and then send it your Gmail inbox or via SMS to your handset, so you read rather than listen to the voicemail. It will also offers the same function for any text messages you receive to you mobile phone.

"We will transcribe voicemails and convert it into text and put it in your inbox so that it's searchable and you will always have a record of that voicemail," said Craig Walker, now group product manager for real time communications at Google and co-founder of GrandCentral - the telephone company Google acquired in 2007.

"They [the transcribed voicemails] may include mistakes but we plan to make accuracy improvements over time," said Google in a blog.

"This is about allowing your existing phone to work better. It's not that we are replacing your phone, we are giving [it] the ability to work better," added Walker.

Google Voice is currently only available to US residents and will initially only be available to subscribers to telephone company GrandCentral.

Google Voice offer similar benefits to a service recently launched by VoIP company Skype and Spinvox. The service allows Skype users to have voicemails sent to their Skype number converted into SMS and sent to their mobile phone. The service costs 17p plus the initial cost of sending a text message.

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