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Over the past decade, the internet has left a long trail of upended industries in its wake—most notably music, publishing and feline photography—but so far the phone companies have skated by more or less untouched.

There have been a few attempts at startup telephony, most notably Skype and the recently revived Ooma but one of the heavy-hitters is about to give it a shot too. We’ll give you a hint; it starts with a G…

We’re not talking about the G-phone or Android, although those will probably enter the mix at some point too. This is Google Voice, a service that gives you a new phone number and an impeccably engineered network of features that just might convince you to never pay Sprint again. The list includes Gmail-style SMS storing, extensive call forwarding and blocking options and voicemail that’s fully integrated into email. They’re the sort of features that are common in large offices but were always too complex for solo consumers. At least, until now.

The project timeline is still shrouded in secrecy, but early reports suggest the Google folks are gearing up for a major kickoff fairly soon, which means your next phone bill could very well be your last. You can sign up for the beta here, but your iPhone may never forgive you.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom