You get a free phone "number" from Google (US only for now (maybe Canada also?)). Then you can direct any calls/txt to that number to forward to your cell or land line service, or use free call recording, and it will forward to your email.
You can also use that number to call out. Free long distance in the US and Canada. Call from the US to the PI: $0.11/min to land lines, $0.17 to mobile numbers, and they announce the fees as you make the call.
You pay with a credit card, keeping a balance in your Google account.
A negative is its awkward to use. Making the LD call, you first call your Google number, then press *, then your PIN (sometimes), then 2 to make the call.
Voice quality is very good.
Not available yet, but maybe in the future: phone numbers for other countries. Then, you could give a Philippines local number to someone in the PI, they call it with local charges, but the call gets forwarded to your number. You would probably pay for the forwarded call.
If you search the Google Voice forums/help online, some people in other countries have already figured out how to 'hack' the system, getting US numbers from other countries and using those for cheaper txt messages. Let us know here if you find any good angles.
BTW, after using this for 3 weeks, I called our dial-around service, "Primus LD" told them I liked Google, and they lowered the rate from the US to PI. Went from $0.359/min to 0.21. I will still use them for LD faxing as its easier to dial.
Edited by JamboME, 25 August 2009 - 12:42 AM.