Google Voice to Upgrade, But Where Are Google’s Telephony Efforts Headed?

Google Voice update

We’re all familiar with Google Voice, the calling service from Google that hung around but never really made it to the major leagues. In a surprise move, however, Google is now getting ready to roll out a major update to Google Voice.

According to sources, a new upgrade link was seen by several users that asked them to try the upgrade, but the links hadn’t gone live. One possibility is that Google did this as a teaser, but a more likely explanation is that one of Google’s developers may have accidentally pushed it to live during testing. That also hints at the release coming soon.

If that’s true, it’s great news for people who have been using Google Voice but haven’t seen much support for the app in recent times. TechCrunch cites two significant changes – Hangouts integration and improvements to transcriptions – but these happened before 2016, so more than a year ago.

Google Voice was launched on March 11, 2009, a little less than two years after Google acquired GrandCentral for $95 million. The rebranding of the original service into Google Voice brought in all the original functionality, but adding more features like voicemail transcriptions and SMS.

That same year, controversy brewed around Google Voice being rejected by Apple’s App Store. The Federal Communications Commission stepped in to resolve the matter, and it came to light that Google Voice was not, in fact, a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) application and that it was using the carrier’s voice network to place phone calls. Apple then back-pedaled to say that the app was not rejected, but still under scrutiny. The app was later accepted into the App Store.

On the whole, Google’s approach to voice communications technology has been all over the place. Several redundancies and overlaps plague their efforts, and it’s really not clear what their strategy is all about, especially after Google Voice was integrated into Gmail/Google Talk and, later, Hangouts.

Now, with the introduction of Allo app for mobile voice calls and Hangouts going deep into the enterprise segment, Google Voice has been all but left out of the equation. Until now.

In a world that’s moving towards unified communications platforms, Google’s telephony efforts are still messy and disparate. They’re slowly getting there, or so it would seem, with the Google Voice upgrade and the current discontinuation efforts around Google+ Hangouts integration.

At this point, we don’t know Google’s plans for Google Voice, but the upgrade should clue us in on how they plan to better organize their efforts in the field of voice communications. Stay tuned for that report.

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