Betas of Google services are legion, but Google Voice‘s beta has gotta be one of the most suspenseful of them all: In the two years since Google bought the service formerly known as GrandCentral, it’s restricted access to folks who were using GrandCentral at the time of the acquisition.
It has, however, allowed interested parties (of whom there are scads) to get on a waiting list for invitations–and today it announced that it’s beginning to let in new users who have requested invite codes. That’s great news, since Google Voice is among Google’s coolest services, and it rates extemely high on the “I can’t believe they’re providing this for free” meter. (I’m lucky enough to have signed up during the brief period when GrandCentral was in an entirely public beta.)
The service does so many phone-related things that it’s hard to explain briefly, so I’ll embed Google’s own explanatory video:’
Google still isn’t opening up the floodgates by simply allowing anyone to show up at Google voice, register, and immediately begin using it, and today’s announcement doesn’t address when that might happen. Given that the service must be among the company’s more demanding ones from a scalability standpoint–and involves a somewhat scarce resource in the form of the phone numbers that are doled out–it may be a while before Voice is easily available to everyone who’d like to try it. I’ll choose to look on the bright side and be impressed by the patience Google is showing in keeping the service semi-private until it’s absolutely, positively sure it’s ready for prime time.
Google also doesn’t seem to be saying how quickly it’ll release those invites. If you applied for one, let us know if you have (or haven’t) been ushered in…and what you think of the service.