today, Google Voice users can route around yet another feature their cell phone carriers would like them to pay for: text messages. Google Voice now allows users to receive and reply to text messages by email without incurring any charges from their cell phone carriers. By default, Google Voice still forwards SMS messages to the cell phone a user has on record with Google Voice. Now, however, this new feature allows users to simply forward these text messages to any email address. Responding to these messages is as easy as replying to the email.Starting
Google Voice gives users a new phone number that can then ring any other phone, as well as free voicemail transcriptions, SMS messaging, and cheap international calls. It is important to remember that Google Voice is not a full VoIP service like Skype, however. While the Google Voice backend relies on VoIP technology, users can't completely route around their landline or mobile phone carriers as Google actually calls a user's home phone or cell phone number to initiate a call. At least to receive and reply to SMS messages, however, users now don't really need their carriers anymore.
If you want to save some extra money and you don't need Google Voice to forward any of your SMS messages to your phone because you're at your computer anyway, make sure you turn off SMS forwarding under Settings -> Phones -> Edit.
While Google Voice is still an invite-only service, Google is slowly opening the service up to more users. Apple, of course, is still 'reviewing' whether it will allow the Google Voice iPhone app into the App Store, but there can be no doubt that Google Voice has the potential to drive some revenue away from cell phone carriers. International calls are cheap, transcribed voicemails that are forwarded to your email are free, you can easily record calls, and you don't need to pay for SMS messages you receive. Over time, Google will surely add a few more features to Google Voice (and maybe bring back some features it dropped from GrandCentral's original feature set). Users still have to connect calls through the cell phone carriers' traditional phone network, but that's about the only service a user would need from AT&T and Co (besides a data plan, of course).