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5 Reasons Skype Should Fear Google Voice

Google Voice is here, with a lot of functionality to boot. Skype, beware.

VoIP will be rolled out slowly

Essentially, Google Voice provides users with a universal phone number to cover all their phone communications -- work, home, mobile -- but more important are Google Voice's bells and whistles, which include a transcription service for voicemails, the searchable cataloging of text messages and lots of different routing options. As a a consumer-grade VoIP service, Google Voice is poised for a showdown with eBay's Skype. Here are five reasons why Skype, despite its enormous popularity, needs to get its game face on, post-haste:

1. Rockin' routing: A Google Voice number allows users to tailor call routing so that certain phone numbers ring certain tones on whatever designated phones. Talk about customized preferences: the service offers the ability to direct your calls automatically to whichever phone (personal calls automatically to home phone, for example) as well as send calls automatically to voicemail.

2. A new meaning to "screening": Call screening generally means throwing a glance at the incoming call number or caller ID screen and deciding whether to answer. According to Google however, when a call is made through Google Voice, the user gets to see the name plus four options: answer it, answer it and record, send it to voicemail or send it to voicemail while listening to the caller leaving the voicemail. Google Voice can also apparently ask for a caller's name if it isn't in a user's saved Google contacts and get that name to the user before he or she picks up the call.

3. Read your calls: When you send a Google Voice call straight to voicemail, you can listen live to what the caller is recording, and also answer the call part way through that recording. Not only that, but you can listen to your saved voicemails online as well as forward them, and for a small fee, receive transcriptions of your voicemails as well.

4. Switch it up: No matter which channel a call comes in through Google Voice, you can switch the phone midway through the call and pick up again without dropping it.

5. The Google muscle: Skype has enjoyed a solid period of dominance. Lucky for those who enjoy a good fight, the popular service just got pulled into the ring by one of the biggest heavyweights around. This should be fun to watch.

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