Has Google Voice Been Left for Dead?


An article this morning mentions a service which blocks annoying robocalls. These calls are mostly illegal and advertise dubious services. I regularly receive robocalls to create or enhance a web site that I could have done myself for free. Why hasn’t Google Voice implemented a solution blocking these? Is it because Google Voice is (all but) dead? 

Yes it’s true that Google’s service allows you to turn on spam filtering. But I find the filters largely don’t work, perhaps because robocalls change numbers so frequently. Yes, there’s an ability to require your Google Voice callers to identify themselves by name if they are not in your address book, however this unfairly punishes legitimate callers, and makes the recipient of calls seem as if they are screening a caller in circumstances where they cannot pickup the phone after a caller has identified themselves.

This leads me to wonder why Google Voice hasn’t received many updates – especially robocall blocking.



If you look at the Android App it is a quaint reminder of what rudimentary apps used to be like in the early days of Android. Playing voicemail messages takes several clicks until the recording is queued onto your phone. And texting through Google Voice still does not include MMS messages? Receiving MMS messages is a crapshoot depending on carrier (most of mine have simply never delivered).

Hello Google Voice – 1990 called and they want their phone service back.

The introduction of Google Hangouts has almost entirely ignored Google Voice integration (with the exception that all incoming Google Voice calls ring Hangouts and cannot be turned off!!). Google diehards are expecting Voice to eventually be incorporated into Hangouts so SMS and calls can originate and be answered there (yes Voice calls can already originate through the iOS version of Hangouts).



Based on this slow pace (non-existent?) rollout of features  I’m very skeptical that Google Voice has a prominent future at Google. Sure, we probably will see an update sometime this year (or within the next 5) that integrates Google Voice with Hangouts, and maybe even there will be SPAM/Robocall filters some time in the next 5 years. The problem, in my view, is that these features should have been in Google Voice already.

Has Google left Voice for dead? I’m not sure I’d recommend it to anyone thinking of picking up a new phone number, even if they were Android users. Google Voice is most tightly integrated with Android, where it can automatically route your outgoing calls through your Google Voice number, but the lack of observable feature improvements over the past few years leads me to strongly suspect that Google Voice is on the same “to get rid of when convenient” list that Reader, Wave, Sites and Motorola found themselves on.

Categories: Editorials

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8 replies

  1. I agree…I think Google voice is next on the chopping block. Remember a few years ago when Sprint and Google had plans to let you integrate GV into your Sprint number? And you could port your phone number to GV…all that has disappeared in the last few years.

    Google Voice is the next Google Reader.

    • >Remember a few years ago when Sprint and Google had plans to let you integrate GV into your Sprint number? And you could port your phone number to GV…all that has disappeared in the last few years.

      Err… I just ported a mobile number to a secondary Google account (rules about not letting a single Google account having more than two Google Voice numbers be damned). And Sprint-Google Voice integration is still alive and well. While they might no longer be advertising it, at the very least they do have their Google Voice page up: sprint(dot)com/landings/googlevoice/ As far as I can tell, my friends who opted to use their Sprint number with Google Voice are still using both.

      If we go by Sprint’s mass advertising efforts, then we might as well write off Google Wallet too, no?

  2. I certainly hope this is not the case. I was a user of Grand Central before Google purchased them and made it Google Voice. I even purchased a personalized GV number. Although I am currently using a Nokia Windows Phone, the MetroTalk App works nicely. If GV dies lets hope someone else steps up to the plate and creates a better replacement.

    • While I do not know about Google Voice, MetroTalk’s days are unfortunately limited. May 15, 2014 is when it will pass into oblivion.

  3. >And texting through Google Voice still does not include MMS messages?

    You ought to know where to lay the blame. Even I’M old enough to remember when sending MMS between the major carriers was impossible. Heck, I remember when you couldn’t send a text message between Verizon and AT&T (the original one, not Cingular dressed up in sheep’s clothing).

    The two with the least to lose–Sprint and T-Mobile–have acquiesced to routing MMS to Google Voice. But Verizon and AT&T remain recalcitrant, and between the two of them they have 228 million subscribers. Sprint and T-Mobile have barely 100 million between them, even after the latter merged with MetroPCS. It wouldn’t make much sense, then, for Google to offer MMS sending when you and I both know that when it failed to work, the average individual would blame Google for the MMS not going through, not Verizon or AT&T. In fact, your own editorial demonstrates as much.

  4. A drag. I really like GV. Once I figured out how to get Linux failure pulseaudio from screwing up the call quality, it has become my go to communication standard for phone.

  5. Google Voice integrated with Sprint is an amazing service that I can’t imagine living without. I hate the new Hangouts and am still using the old version in Gmail. If Google scraps Voice, after all these years advertising “one number for life”, I’ll be beyond disappointed. After Gmail, Voice is the second Google service that I use the most often. Hangouts are a complicated hot mess that I’ve tried to get used to, but to no avail. If it ain’t broke, Google, don’t fix it!


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