After the acquisition of the service GrandCentral in March 2009, Google launched a telephony service that provides call forwarding, voicemail service, text messaging and international call termination for Google Account holders. This was called Google Voice and it provides services to customers certain areas free of charge. This ambitious call forwarding for phones allowed users to maintain their number to be used by different devices.
Since its release, Google Voice has stayed as it was, until recently, when a redesign of the web interface, as well as the iOS and the Android app, was released. Google also promised more updates to come.
Here are some of the changes to be seen in the next five years:
Google Voice has been given the ultimate make over that brings it in line with the rest of the Google apps. This aims to be more visually refreshing. The inbox now has a new look with separate tabs that segregates text messages, calls and voicemail. Messages now stay in one continuous thread where users can now easily track conversations and have all the messages in one place.
The application can now filter spam across all communications which will free up the customer’s inbox for more important messages.
- Android User Interface
Android users now have the direct reply functionality from the notification window. This is not currently supported by the Apple iPhone 3D touch.
- New Features
The service now has full MMS photo support on all platforms and group discussions has been made available. Photos can now be sent and received along with the rest of the conversation, like any other instant messaging apps available. This update has eliminated the Google Voice’s sore spot which resulted in sending an email with the MMS as an attachment. Group conversations should also be similar to any other group chatting experience in other applications. Search capabilities for both call history and text is now possible while Voice mail transcription also got an upgrade with a Spanish option.
- Future Updates
Google Voice users no longer need to feel neglected and stuck at an archaic service since there is no other service that offers the same purpose out there. The company has hinted that there will be regular updates to ensure that the app is providing the service that their users need. There was no word as to the frequency of the updates, but one thing is for sure, Google wants to let the users know that Google Voice is once again one of the company’s top priorities. This week’s update is currently available for Android users, and will soon be followed by the updated for iOS users, which will then be followed by the web client automatically.
All in all, Google has made a redesign that has been long awaited for by users with a few more add on. Users need not be hesitant of this new experience since features like voicemail transcription, shared voicemails, SMS to email, personalized greetings, international calling, call screening, call blocking, conference calls, number porting, and all-in-one number is still available. Users can still have an access number linked with the user’s phone number that will put all their text messages, voicemails, and call in one convenient location. Google Voice account holders can still easily change from one device to another or even switch carriers without worrying about losing their messages, contacts, or even their carrier issued phone number. Users can still access their voicemails like any other emails or instant messages through voicemail transcription like the old application.
Google Voice is one of those applications which was left in the crack. It was a promising app when it was first introduced, and could have been a competitor to Skype. However, it was left in the dark amid other Google projects. Google has the habit of losing projects in the cracks when they move around things. If Voice was not updated, it would have faded into the background or might have been totally left behind.
Considering everything, the whole idea of Voice is as an IP voice enabled alternative to the phone. This would have been another app to use voice-over-IP. If it had been more successful, it would have been another cause for worry for carriers. As it is, it is not too late for Google to try to catch up with other chat and VOIP apps.
The concept of a conglomerate would have been very much applicable to Google. It has video sharing, mail, search, a phone OS, and a social networking site. Although “conglomerate” would not have been an adequate description because all these different products wrap around the internet. In addition, anti-trust bodies would not be interested in Google because a lot of these services are given away for free.
Voice may have felt like an orphan for a long time. However, Google already has a viable alternative in Hangouts. It has chat, and video, as well as video streaming for webinars. What it does not have is a tie in with the phone number. It is tied in with the Google account. One other advantage of Hangouts is that it comes free with Android, along with other Google apps. These are standard apps which come with Android, and users as well as manufacturers have no choice about the matter.
If and when Voice does become a mainstream Google application, it would be awkward to have it included in the phone as a standard Google app. Carriers might be forced to do something about that.Google+