RealTime IT News

Google Voice Has Your Number

Google has tweaked its call-management app to allow callers to keep their existing mobile phone numbers.

Prior to the change, users had to select a new phone number to use with Google Voice. Now, users can keep their mobile number, with the trade-off that they won't get all the features that come with a unique Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) number, according to Pierre Lebeau, a product manager at Google.

"We know not everyone wants to start using a new phone number, so we've been working on another option for people who are willing to trade some features for the ability to keep their existing number," Lebeau said in a blog post.

The breakdown is as follows: users who sign up for Google Voice with their existing numbers get online, searchable voicemail, automated voicemail transcription, custom voicemail greetings, e-mail and SMS notifications and low-priced international calls.

Google Voice users who use a new Google number get all those features, plus a unified number that rings on all their phones, SMS through e-mail, call screening, call recording, conference calling and call blocking.

The latest update to Google Voice comes as the app continues to be basted in controversy.

No one could have predicted the fallout that came after Google introduced the app, which allows users to initiate a call on the Internet that is then relayed to whatever network the caller's phone uses.

Born from the purchase of GrandCentral, Google Voice debuted in March, and in the time since, Google Voice -- and Google -- have been the target of federal inquiries over how the service works and why it had not been made available in Apple's iPhone App Store.

It also prompted accusations by AT&T, the exclusive U.S. carrier for the iPhone, alleging that Google unfairly operates under different federal regulations than carriers, allowing it to unfairly block calls to some rural areas.

Meanwhile, Apple rival Palm approved a third-party version of Google Voice for the Pre without any fanfare. Google Voice is also available as BlackBerry and Android apps.