Google has acquired GrandCentral Communications to build up its voice communications services.
GrandCentral's users can combine all their phone numbers and voice-mail boxes under one phone number so they can manage various phone features online. Users can set up their accounts so that the number can ring on one or multiple phones, based on who is calling. Customers can hear voice-mail online or from a phone and forward voice-mails to others or post them to a blog.
Users can log into their online address book and then click on an entry to make a call. Once the user clicks on the number, GrandCentral calls the user’s designated phone and then connects it to the number from the address book.
Last week rumours of the acquisition swirled online. At the time, a GrandCentral spokesman said he couldn't comment on the rumours.
Google made the announcement yesterday on its blog.
On its web site, GrandCentral said it was pleased about the acquisition because it would assure users that their GrandCentral numbers will be around for the long term, no matter how many times users move or change jobs or phone providers.
Google will continue to support existing users without interruption but will issue only a limited number of invitations for new beta customers while it transitions the service over to Google. Interested users can ask for an invitation on the GrandCentral web site.
GrandCentral listed one feature that isn't available following the Google acquisition. Although customers will be able to choose from a selection of sound files as ringback tones, they won't be able to upload their own sound files going forward.
The acquisition adds to other Google communications services, including Google Talk, an instant messaging service that includes voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calling.