Google to turn voicemail into text

Google is to launch Google Voice on Thursday, Reuters says. It weaves usual phone features with Google's Gmail email, so a person can store transcripts of voicemail phone messages in their email inbox and find a specific nugget of information within a phone message as if trawling through a sea of emails.

The transcribed messages can be forwarded as an email or SMS text message to a person's email inbox.

Google Voice is based on Grand Central Communications' technology, a company that Google acquired in July 2007. After Grand Central remained silent for nearly two years under the Google flag, some observers wondered whether it had met the same fate as Dodgeball, a Google acquisition that was formally shut down this year.

The new version of the speech-recognition technology was originally developed by Google for its Goog-411 telephone directory service.

Reuters remarks that it is unclear how Google Voice will fit into Google's business model, which relies on advertisers to provide 97% of the company's revenue.