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.