Google is ready to bring Google Voice to a place where it really makes the most sense: the smartphone.
Android and BlackBerry owners who are also Google Voice users will be able to use the service directly on their handsets starting Wednesday, said Vincent Paquet, senior product manager for Google Voice and a co-founder of GrandCentral, the product currently known as Google Voice. Google Voice, which is expected to be available at some point Wednesday, lets users assign a single number to ring their home, work, and cell phones, and also get voice mail messages as text transcriptions.
With the new applications, Google Voice users will be able to make calls from their smartphones with their Google Voice numbers displayed on the other end of the call, alleviating a common frustration with the service, Paquet said. They'll also be able to get their transcribed voice mail inside the dedicated application rather than having to use their phone's browser to see that text.
The obvious missing piece of the puzzle--Google Voice for the iPhone--is coming but isn't quite ready, Paquet said. He said Apple and Google are working on getting an iPhone version out the door, but declined to comment on exactly what was holding up the process.
Google Voice uses a carrier's existing network to place calls: so it's not like you're getting around your monthly allotment of minutes by using the service as a voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP phone. Still, Apple has approved Skype for the iPhone, so it's a little unclear what might be the sticking point, especially since Google has been given preferential App Store treatment in the past.
Android users will be able to find the app in the Android Market or on Google's mobile site, but BlackBerry users will have to download the app from Google rather than from the BlackBerry App World.
On number portability, he said it's something Google's working on but the experience isn't quite up to Google's standards for anything but carrier-to-carrier ports just yet. And regarding Google Voice's invite-only status, he said that registration has been moving smoothly since Google began sending invites to people who had signed up on a waiting list, although it doesn't seem like the service will be open without a having to file a request anytime soon.