Google has given mobile operators one more reason to fear its nascent Google Voice service, after adapting it to work with users' existing mobile numbers.
The company has rolled out a limited version of the free service for existing phone numbers – lacking, for example, the ability to block, record or initiate multi-way calls.
But all the functions of Google's voicemail service will be retained, replacing a phone's existing service. These features include automatic transcribing and emailing of voicemail messages.
Users will also have the ability to make cheap international calls via the service's VoIP-like calling function.
“We know not everyone wants to switch to a new phone number, so it made sense for us to create a lighter version of Google Voice for people who are willing to trade some features for the ability to use their existing numbers,” Google Voice product managers posted on the Google Blog.
The Google Voice service is still currently only available in the US, and by invitation only.