Right on the heels of its long overdue update, Google Voice is getting an update that adds a few more features.
Per the changelog, it gets a “do not disturb” toggle, Gboard search functionality, notification tweaking, etc:
• Conversation delete
• Disabling app notifications for text messages
• Do not disturb
• Gif image search on Gboard
• Conversation archive shortcut (long-press on conversation list)
• Bug fixes and performance improvements
It’s been such a long time, but I still remember the specifics.
I was on one of those early web clearinghouses that was related to loss prevention, and one of the topics that popped up was an invite-only services based on telephony called GrandCentral. It gave one the opportunity to pick a whole new number and even manage voicemail to said number online.
I don’t know why I wanted one, but I just had to. I began to use it, a bit sporadically, but I learned to appreciate it; it was especially useful as a contact on resumes when I didn’t want someone to have my “real” number. Shortly after I activated my account, the big news dropped: GrandCentral was acquired by Google.
This is when Google Voice and I hit a groove. It was beautiful… using companion apps and a GV port on my BlackBerry, I was able to cobble a solution that allowed me to have, in essence, two numbers on one device. In the early days when folks had not yet begun to fully trust the idea of porting numbers across carriers, Google Voice gave me some indemnity: no matter what, I had a phone number that would stick with me no matter where I went.
When I toyed with trying out Android, Google Voice compatibility was a serious consideration. Thankfully, the same solutions existed, and the Android GV app was better (as to be expected). And since then, it has been a match made in a place close to heaven. I manage my GV number as my main give-out number, and text accordingly. I dial out from my native phone dialer, and for the most part it’s seamless; most people have and use my GV number to reach me.
It isn’t perfect, no; GV seems to be on the back burner, and scarily redundant with other features like Google Messenger and Hangouts getting better by the day. MMS handling is still clunky too.
Still, Google Voice was probably my first foray into web-managed services, and I still rely on it heavily, so much so that if I had to pick between my GV number and my “real” number, it would almost always be the former I choose.
Google+ Hangouts, Google’s multi-functional mobile messaging utility, has just received a decently sized update.
According to the Play Store changelog, new features in the new build include:
â— Customize ringtones for each of your Hangouts
â— Block SMS messages from specific phone numbers
â— Restore contacts that you have previously hidden
â— Layout support for right-to-left languages
Additionally, according to an earlier report from Android Central, it seems as though Google is rolling out a server-side change that allows Google Voice SMS to be routed and managed from within Hangouts. This hearkens to the expected merging of Voice into Hangouts.
It’s also pertinent to note that Google Voice has an update available.
GrooveIP, the VoIP app for Android that uses the soon-defunct Google Voice API to make calls, has been faced with an uncertain future due to the shutdown of that API. However, Snrb Labs have announced on Facebook their plans to update the app with services to include porting numbers, and free incoming and outgoing calls before their May 15th deadline. We’ll have more on the app as it nears its new future.
Google Voice has gotten an update that brings a few minor changes, but ones that should be useful to Android users across the spectrum of devices. What should be most interesting to those who use Google Voice in spotty network conditions is that the app now supports what it calls asynchronous messaging. In layman’s terms, that means that texts made when a device isn’t connected to the internet will be queued up and sent as soon as internet access is restored. Next, the interface has been adapted for Ice Cream Sandwich devices, utilizing new design standards like the Action Menu for these buttonless devices. As well, the icon has been given a change, the first major change for the logo since the service’s inception. However, the widgets still use some of the old graphics and logos, so this transition to the new logo is clearly not done yet â€“ further updates should be expected soon. The update is available now.
Google Voice has gotten its first significant update in a while; while the dream of being able to call over wifi or data connections instead of having to use the carriers’ pricey phone minutes is not yet realized, 2 other useful features have been added. First, users can now make calls without a data connection to people that have been previously called. Becuase Google Voice dials through to another phone number, then has that call routed to the person intended to be called, this means that Google Voice just needs to store that routing number on the phone and know to call that number instead of having to prompt for that number over the data connection. This will make calling when data is unavailable while still having access to Google Voice much easier. The second feature, though this is one that is extremely unofficial, is that the app has support for Android tablets; while calling may be difficult from these tablets unless a VoIP application is used (if at all possible), this does mean that texting can be done over wifi, or can be great when users don’t have their phones handy. The app must be sideloaded from an APK (available through the source link at the bottom of the article) for Android tablets, but for supported devices, the update is available now.
Texting plans don’t come cheap. The phone carriers know that people are so addicted to them, that they can charge fees far greater than the actual data transfer is worth and people will keep paying them. However, there do exist solutions for free texting. iOS users have had the option to use Textfree for a while to send texts to people, whether they’re looking to replace their phone’s text plan, or use their iPod touch to send texts, just like a real phone! Now, Android users can download Textfree for their phones, and send texts for free using their service. However, with Google Voice already supported by Android, is Textfree worth using?
Both Google Voice and Textfree offer similar features for text message users – both services give you a real number for free that people can send texts to, and you will get a notification on your device of choice of the text. Texts and their notifications come in with relatively no latency, based on testing. Textfree can’t work as a phone number replacement like how Google Voice can, only as a separate texting number. As well, the Android version of Textfree can’t place and receive voice calls like the iOS version, although this is a paid service – this may come at some point in the future, especially with official in-app purchases now implemented. Textfree’s Android app has an advantage over the iOS app, as your phone’s SMS messages can be implemented into the app, so you can use Textfree to check both your Textfree texts and official messages, and send messages via either Textfree or your text plan via the Textfree app. This is not possible on iOS due to Apple restrictions.
For multiplatform users, Google Voice will send notifications to whatever device you are logged in to, so if you have an iPod touch and Android, you can get notifications on both if you want. However, Textfree only allows you to log in on one device, so you will only get notifications on that one device that you are logged in to. This might seem like good user behavior, but what if you switch between devices and expect a text on one device, but they’re coming in to another? As well, if you use your iOS device for voice calls with your Textfree number, you will only get a notification of a missed call, rather than being able to answer the call.
Textfree for Android is a solid solution for those looking to send free texts from their Android device, or if they have a Textfree account that they want to use on their Android device now. Overall, as a service, it has some advancing to do on Android before it can compete with Google Voice as a phone replacement, however. Textfree is now available from the Android Market for free.