Google Voice reportedly getting axed soon in favor of VoIP-to-phones Hangouts integration

By , Mar 18, 2014

Google Voice 1.5 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 001)Google Voice 1.5 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 002)

Have you even wondered why it’s been nearly six months since Google last refreshed the free Google Voice for iPhone application (it still lacks iOS 7 styling)? After all, isn’t Google Voice supposed to be a priority for the Internet giant?

For those unfamiliar with it, Google Voice is a telephony service that offers a bunch of nice features such as voicemail, free text messaging, call history, conference calling, call screening, call routing, blocking of unwanted calls and voice transcription to text of voicemail messages, to name a few.

According to a new report, Google could be looking to retire the standalone Voice app for iOS and Android and instead fold its functionality into the native Hangouts app, which was released in the App Store in May of 2013

Google is apparently planning to kill Google Voice in coming months and integrate its features into the Hangouts software on desktop and mobile.

Seth Weintraub of 9to5Google has the scoop:

We’ve heard that Google Voice is getting dragged to the trash can and most of its functionality will be incorporated into the Hangouts apps on both Android and iOS.

This has already happened to an extent with the ability to phone friends on Hangouts, but we’re hearing the full shuttering and depreciation of the app is the next step.

That’s an interesting turn of events.

If the rumor proves true, you’ll be able to both make and receive VoIP calls directly from your Google number, using the Hangouts on iOS and Android (the web version of Hangouts already allows this).

The author notes that wireless carriers will have their say over the move because such a service would need to be enabled by them, just like Apple’s FaceTime.

The VoIP functionality would allow those willing to trust Google with their number to have a way to drop their carrier voice plans altogether – an extremely controversial move and one we’d expect to see challenged by carriers.

The move is said to be “months out” so we could be in for an announcement at Google I/O 2014For what it’s worth, T-Mobile last November allowed MMS messages from their users to be sent to Google Voice customers.

“We continue to work with other carriers to broaden support for messaging and bring MMS to Hangouts,” Google said at the time,  teasing “more good things” coming.

Strangely enough, VoIP calling is already available on the iOS app but not on the Android app. Another tell-tale sign: Google recently allowed Hangouts to take over Android’s SMS functionality.

The writing has certainly been on the wall for quite some time.

Google’s communications and messaging services have been a mess for a long time and the firm could certainly benefit from a much-needed streamlining. Before the mobile Hangouts was released, Google supported four separate services on iOS, Android and the web: Gtalk, Google+ Messenger, Messaging and Voice.

Messenger was finally retired a few months after Hangouts made its debut, followed by the Messaging app removal shortly after. Therefore, it would make lots of sense to fold Google Voice functionality into Hangouts, leaving Google with a single messaging and communications platform.

The innovative service, which had nearly four million users as of last year, lets you pair your existing mobile and landline numbers to a single Google number, making it easy to make free PC-to-phone calls within North America, and PC-to-PC voice and video calls worldwide between users of the Google+ Hangouts.

You can download Google Voice for iPhone free in the App Store.

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  • Jonathan

    I stopped using it months ago. I use SMS on GV for my iPod 5 and Google Hangouts. A free (Wi-fi) phone. :P

    • Angela Cleveland

      Jonathan, check out your options with Canopy Voice. Recent blog in Builtincolorado tells all about it.

      • Jonathan

        Thank you, robot. I shall now flag you.

      • Angela Cleveland

        :) I am not at all a robot. lol

      • Jonathan

        Sorry. xD I was suspicious since you posted pretty much the same thing on multiple places within the past hour. Which in a way is advertising, and really isn’t accepted here.

      • Angela Cleveland

        HAHA but aren’t those silly ads usually about making money. Just wanted to respond to the ones talking VOIP of the new option. Not to be considered advertising. I felt it was a very appropriate time to advise them.

      • Jonathan

        Ah, I see. =)

  • Grrrr

    Is it me or is the mobile site REALLY sensitive. Sometimes on the main page it loads a page when all I want to do is scroll or it loads a page at the tinsiest touch. It’s so annoying especially when I want to hold and open in new tab but it ends up loading…

  • Jason Trump

    I sure hope we wont lose the phone number.

    • intellectual_traits

      Hope not also

    • Antony

      Google has gotten us tied by our balls… they could totally charge us money for keeping the number if they wanted… but certainly… I don’t think they will mess up this big by making us getting a new number all over again.

  • Al

    I’m bout tired of Google. Gotta find an alternative. Google Hangout sucks!!

    • Angela Cleveland

      Check out Canopy Voice. Recent blog on Builtincolorado

    • Angela Cleveland

      Check into Canopy Voice. Works for me.

      • Antony

        Canopy Voice requires credit card to sign up. Mm…

    • Antony

      Not trying to be a Google fan boy here.. as I have both Nexus 5 and iPhone 5.. I have to say.. the integration of Facetime Video chat feature in Hangouts is amazing!

      The quality is just as great, if not better than Apple’s own facetime. Plus, Hangouts work on both iOS & Android. I am no longer tied to Apple device for a VoIP based video chat. It doesn’t matter which phone is in my hand, it just works.

  • Dani Hayes

    I hope they don’t axe google voice. I use it for SMS and like to give it to people I don’t know. That way I can keep my regular number more private.

    • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

      Check out TextNow…

      • Angela Cleveland

        Check out Canopy Voice. New blog on Builtincolorado

  • Oscar Feliciano

    You can already make VoIP calls using your Google Voice number over the Hangouts app on iOS. I use it all of the time to call landline and cellphone numbers without using my cellular minutes.

    • deanerick

      On Tmobile using Hangouts 5/13/14, charging minutes, which sucks. Talkatone too.

      • Oscar Feliciano

        I have pre-paid T-Mobile and have never had them charge minutes while using Hangouts. I don’t even see how that would be possible considering it’s all over the data connection (4G or WiFi).

  • Starfall88

    not a good news. I use GV a lot and I like it as a standalone app.

    • Angela Cleveland

      Don’t waste time. Check out Canopy Voice. See recent blog on Builtincolorado.

    • Antony

      Seriously though, if they can finally support MMS for GV under Hangouts, I am all for it.
      With current GV, I only hear crickets when it comes to new features. Maybe Google will finally do something about it with Hangouts this time around.

  • Angela Cleveland

    Canopy Voice may be the resolution. See recent blog on Builtincolorado

  • http://jreidy17.wordpress.com/ Julia

    I make International calls with Hangouts, and it is pretty flaky. Often I get the “robot voice”. Some times it is days at a time when I can’t reach the person I am trying to talk to and we must fall back to texting. I’d like Hangouts to be reliable.

  • deeksha5

    Video qua;ity is uncomparable with Skype. Skype is simply awesome and only Facetime can compete with. Hangout is nice but much more to improve. I personally use Skype for voice call and Photo4tune for chatting.