Google's been busy this last week or so, starting with the excitement of Chrome OS and now with Google Voice for smartphones getting its roll-out. The BlackBerry and Android apps dropped this morning, but iPhoners will have to wait.
The Voice app is designed to facilitate using Google's service instead of your regular cellphone number, making the most of the enhanced facilities Google offers like cheap international calls, call redirection and voicemail transcribing. If you're an Android phone owner and Google Voice user you'll be able to find the app on the Android Market right now, but RIM BlackBerry owners will have to go directly to Google to find it, since it's apparently not going over the wires on RIM's App World.
As you might expect from the open-source status of the Android OS, and the fact that Google itself developed it, the Android app is the more sophisticated of the two. It winds its way into your phone, subsuming contacts, dialer app and call logging so that you can completely ignore the original setup of your cell, should you so desire. The BlackBerry app is a little less straightforward, since you have to access it via the phone's contacts list or using its specific dialer function.
Most interestingly, the iPhone app is apparently still under development. That's partly a surprise, given the success of the iPhone, and partly not--the G1, HTC Magic and their kin are arch-rival smartphones to the iPhone, after all.
Still, the repercussions of the native Google Voice app may end up being somewhat significant as it offers a radically different way to think about voice communications. Whether it'll ultimately challenge the services from the carriers themselves remains to be seen, since the app still makes use of their networks voice calling system directly--unlike Skype. But with the might of Google behind the idea, the apps now on the best-selling smartphones, and a number of revolutionary features bundled into Voice, it's certainly possible.