Google is releasing software that will allow users to manage their phone messages over the web, similar to the way they handle emails or online calendars.

Google Voice, takes voicemails from multiple phone lines and turns them into text files, allowing users to quickly search messages.

The software is an upgrade of a product gained in Google’s 2007 acquisition of GrandCentral Communications.

“We don’t displace the phone on your desk, the phone in your pocket, or the phone in your home – all we do is make them work better together,” says Google’s senior product manager, Craig Walker.

The program is part of the search giant’s strategy to develop software that pulls more offline information on to the web, in an effort to generate traffic on its site and draw users away from rivals Yahoo and Microsoft MSN.

Like Google’s other products, such as Gmail, Google Maps and Google Finance, Google Voice is a free service.

As well as displaying voicemails, Google Voice shows information about incoming calls and text messages, and dials phone numbers and transmits calls over the internet.

Walker also indicates that the company was targeting consumers with Google Voice, although small businesses might use the feature as well.