Somewhat quietly Google opened up Google Voice to the public last week.
If you haven’t had the chance to try Google Voice, I suggest taking a look. For people like me, with multiple phone numbers and locations, its a killer app.
With Google Voice you get a single phone number that simultaneously rings all your phones (first one to answer wins) and you can quickly transfer calls between those phones. I’ve had conference calls that started in my office that I seamlessly transferred to my cell and then to my home phone without anyone noticing a thing.
You can also place free outbound calls using the service for free in the US (no idea about other locations). I use this feature to dramatically reduce my home telephone bill, I dropped all local and long distance service from my land-line and simply use my browser to initiate all calls. And thanks to syncing my Outlook contacts with Google this is extremely simple to do.
Outbound IVR types should also be ready for Google Voice. Google seems to be accomplishing the simultaneous ring and transfer functionality by using a conference bridge as the core technology. While this is a pretty cool idea, it does present a problem for those of us attempting to detect answering machines. Essentially Google has answered the call long before the remote caller has answered the phone. Google Voice needs to be treated similarly to recipients who play music instead of standard ringing.