Essential Gadgets Image Gallery
Essential Gadgets Image Gallery

Kids still make this simple telephone, but it can't do everything Google Voice can do. See more essential gadgets pictures.

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If you've ever caught a rerun of "The Little Rascals" or an old Looney Tunes cartoon, chances are you're familiar with one of the most popular forms of communication ever known to man: the good old tin cans connected by a string. Kids used to make them all the time and attempt to talk to each other. OK, so maybe the tin can phone wasn't a very useful method for communication. But it did foreshadow where our society was heading. And look where mobile communication is now.

With the recent smartphone boom has come the integration of the Internet and e-mail with traditional voice communication. These handheld devices, like Apple's iPhone and all the RIM BlackBerry and Android-based phones on the market, give people more ways to stay in touch and stay informed. As demands for organization and communication systems management evolve, inevitably we'll see even more innovative products and services sprouting up. Meet Google Voice.

Google Voice is a Web-based communication platform for linking multiple phones to a single phone number. And that's just the beginning. After an exclusive introduction in early 2009, on the heels of the purchase of the phone management system GrandCentral in 2006, Google Voice was available by request or invitation only. After a year of working through the bugs, and slower-than-expected traction, it's now available to everyone, for free. And it has the potential to change the way we communicate yet again. When you see what it has to offer, you can't help being impressed. But remember, everything has drawbacks. Before we explain whether Google Voice suits you, let's start by looking at the many features it offers.