Google Voice to be rolled into Hangouts within the next few months

March 18, 2014
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Google Voice, the lone holdout in Google’s cobbling all messaging services into Hangouts, may not be long for this world. A new report suggests Google will fold Voice into Hangouts soon, just as they’ve done with Google+ Messenger, Talk and (sort of) the Android messaging app. Those who still use Voice may be left with little option, here.

The two service from Google offer quite a bit of the same functionality. Both use VoIP to make and receive calls, but Voice has one feature that trumps Hangouts. With Voice, you can use your own number. In Hangouts, you simply call a friend who uses Hangouts via Hangouts. With the combination of the two services, Hangouts is expected to get those Voice numbers (usually our numbers) rather than use an assigned number (random at best).

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Voice has been maligned by some carriers who don’t appreciate the fact that the service circumvents the plan structure. By using VoIP rather than voice minutes, carriers were reluctant to adopt Voice (Sprint being the lone holdout). By integrating those Voice numbers into Hangouts, some expect carriers to raise arms again. We don’t.

With the coming VoLTE, and our diminishing reliance on voice minutes (which is why so many carriers now offer ‘unlimited talk’), we don’t think carriers will worry too much about this. Voice was nice, and having the utility in Hangouts will be nice as well (if it pans out), but we don’t think carriers will care too much. Data is the new black for carriers, and Voice being rolled into Hangouts likely matters very little to them.

The coming change is said to be “months out”, so Google I/O this June (still weird…) is a likely announcement timeframe. When it happens (whenever it does, because it definitely will), expect us to write a nice “well, it’s about time” article accompanying it. Hangouts is — and always has been — meant to unify Google’s communication services.

Source: 9to5Google


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  • Xray Eyes

    Oh please let us keep our Google numbers! I have had mine for over 5 years and don’t know how I will make the switch. Both personal and business contacts have that number and switching would kill me!

    • Conner Rhoads

      There’s no doubt in my mind Google is going to keep the phone numbers accessible in a similar fashion to how it is today. If Google would randomly pull support for it, it would be all the FCC needs to throw a massive banhammer / beat stick in Google’s direction. It would be an absolute legal mess; not to mention, I’m sure there would be civil lawsuits upon lawsuits.

      Google has probably taken so much time to deal with this so they could deal with it properly.

      The very closest we’ve ever had to a carrier some how disenfranchising owners of identifier as important as a phone number can be seen in the GoDaddy fiasco and we all know how messy that legal mess was. Pulling phone numbers is several tiers above that in terms of culpability. The FCC most certainly would be forced to step in if this ever happened.

  • bigdawgx

    I don’t use HangOuts and don’t really care to. Leave Voice alone. It works fine. If anything, it should have been expanded to handle MMS and other functions, not the other way around.

  • Mark

    What will this do to my ability to call China for 2 cents/minute using Google Voice on my cellphone?

  • Face

    It’s not true that Voice “[uses] VoIP rather than voice minutes”, so using that as a justification for why carriers were reluctant to adopt Voice integration does not hold water. It’s probably, instead, because Voice wraps text messages as data, meaning no separate charge for sending/receiving texts. Carriers don’t like giving out unlimited texting for free.

  • George Silberstern

    Google Voice (GV) has some definite advantages. In terms of function, the closest it comes to is Skype.

    Though I haven’t looked into it or used it, I don’t believe the Skype “phone number” feature works the same way as GV’s (if someone can educate me in that regard, I’m receptive). My reason for not looking at it? GV does what I need it to, and I don’t need a substitute.

    In case you don’t know: You don’t get assigned a phone number with GV, but choose one from the carrier’s number pool. Your GV number is affixed your GV account, not to the device of your choice. That makes it flexible, as you can access it from any medium that allows you to sign into the account (mobile, tablet, or computer). Furthermore, you can tell GV where it should direct your traffic to; this could be any working phone (mobile or landline). Need to redirect that traffic? Just sign in via the GV site and make the change. SMS activity is copied to your Google account and, as you know, there’s many ways of sending/retrieving those. Want to dial out? You can do so as well, and a variety of methods to do so.

    So long as a possible fusion of GV and Hangouts retains this key feature of GV as opposed to making it a Skype-alike that eliminates it (see my aside in the second paragraph), I suppose it’ll be okay; time will tell of course.

    No matter what happens though, the point about regulatory involvement is more than valid. To issue numbers for use in GV, Google had to obtain blocks of them from somewhere. They cannot just “abandon” those. Doing so would not only create a dust-up with the FCC, but also cause problems for carriers and users alike. For this reason, I think Google’s hands are tied insofar as that is concerned.

    The real limitation for GV is that it’s only available to the U.S. market. Why? Because every country has its own telecom regulations. At 200+ countries, conforming to as many policies about number assignment, forwarding abilities, and so on, that’s a bit unwieldy. This is both good and bad: Good insofar as managing the operation, and bad in terms of how big the userbase is…