Yesterday, I talked about a bunch of new stuff in the geek world. Today, another big one was announced: Google Voice is no longer just limited to invite-only. Anyone can now sign up and start using the service.

So, what is Google Voice

Short answer: It’s a virtual phone number that rings through to any number of real phone numbers. A slightly longer answer is that it is a suite of phone-related services which can be accessed and managed through a web browser or a smartphone. The features you get with google voice include Call Forwarding, Free Text Messaging, Visual Voicemail (with transcribed speech-to-text, giving you an email-like view of your voicemail messages) and very cheap International Calling.

What it isn’t

It’s not Skype. You don’t make computer-to-computer calls. This is an actual phone number that other actual phone numbers dial into. It’s just that once someone dials your google voice number, you have a bit more control over what happens. You can block numbers, send all callers to your voicemail, screen the messages, or you can forward the call to your phone and answer it (and even record the conversation at any time by dialing 4).

And this is just what I’ve discovered after a few minutes of playing with it. Which brings me to this:

I have a google voice phone number now. It’s (313) 444-4825. It’s not that I really want to be in the Detroit Area Code, but I managed to grab the only available number that spells out GIGITAL, my on-again-off-again business name (It’s on again now).