Back in 2005, a useful communications service called GrandCentral was launched. With it, you could get yourself a single phone number that got forwarded to any or all of your other phone numbers and featured some cool bells and whistles such as different voicemail greetings depending upon who was calling you—friends, family, business associates, etc.—and the ability to block calls from certain numbers, block all calls after a certain time of day, and a bunch of other nerd-tastic stuff.
Google acquired GrandCentral in 2007 and appeared to have largely abandoned it, adding no new features and making no real newsworthy announcements until 2009 when everything re-launched as Google Voice.
So now there’s Google Voice, which offers much of the same stuff that GrandCentral had, but one of the big things that’s been missing is the ability to actually make and receive VoIP calls directly from your computer. You still need some sort of actual phone, in other words.
Then in November of last year, Google announced that it had acquired Gizmo5, a company that makes computer software to facilitate actual voice calls. Naturally, everyone assumed that Google Voice would soon get its own desktop application that would allow users to make and receive calls without an actual phone. Sure enough, there have been some reports that Google’s been testing such functionality internally.
Recently, the Google Operating System blog (not affiliated with Google, mind you), received a tip that Google Voice may be getting integrated directly into Gmail. So you’d be able to dial out to people in your contacts list and, presumably, when someone called your Google Voice number it would “ring” inside your Gmail account provided the window is open in your browser.
This is all still in the rumor phase, so there’s no word on if or when we’d see this feature added to Gmail but as a Google Voice user who keeps Gmail open all day for work, I’d certainly use it. Google Voice is still in an invite-only phase but I have three invites if anybody wants one. Just leave a comment below expressing interest and I’ll send invites out to the first three people.
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