Google Voice Prepares To Go Viral, Gmail Style

In the last few months there’s been a lot of news about Google Voice: it’s been blocked from the iPhone (though Apple says it’s still ‘pondering‘ it) and has been the focal point of not one, but two FCC inquiries. But up until now it hasn’t been very easy to actually sign up for the service — you’ve been able to request an invite for some time now, but there’s an unspecified waiting period as Google works through its list. That’s going to change soon, as Google has just announced that it will be distributing invites to people already on Google Voice, which they can hand out to their friends.

Google is starting to hand out the invites beginning today, though not everyone will get theirs immediately (each person will get three invites to start with). Using an invite is straightforward: you enter the Email address of the friend or family member you want to invite, they’ll get a note from you, and they can immediately gain access to the service.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Gmail used a very similar model when it initially rolled out (in fact, Gmail still features an ‘invite your friend’ box on the side of the screen). Invites help the service ramp up gradually, and they’re also a great way to spread to users who may not have otherwise known about Google Voice.