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Is Google Voice Doomed To Be 2nd-Class Messaging System?

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the works-for-me dept.

Google 172

itwbennett writes "There's a lot to like about Google Voice, including 'voicemail transcriptions, the ability to send and receive unlimited text messages by phone or website, and recording incoming calls,' says Voice convert Kevin Purdy. But when it comes to app integration, Voice is falling short — even on Android phones: 'Most apps that do neat things with incoming texts, like read them out loud when you're driving, can't work with Voice. Tasker, a crazy, nerdy automation tool that can do things like turn your volume up when you get a text from your wife, can't work with Voice.... Online services that text you to verify or remind you are about 50/50.' Google employee Nikhyl Singhal wrote in a Google+ post that 'Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice.' But what Voice users like Purdy are looking for is some sort of 'assurance that Google Voice can work just like any other text messaging system.'"

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We Just added WebRTC support to FreeSWITCH (-1, Offtopic)

anthm (894202) | about 10 months ago | (#44101123)

In anticipation of this transition to hangouts, We have added WebRTC support to FreeSWITCH, our Open Source Telephony and Voice application framework.
We have had support for Jingle for many years allowing communication with google voice and I suspect we will be able to use our new WebRTC functionality to connect Google hangouts to any voice applications you can make using FreeSWITCH http://www.freeswitch.org/ [freeswitch.org]

We are featuring WebRTC applications in August at our ClueCon conference http://www.cluecon.com/ [cluecon.com]

Re:We Just added WebRTC support to FreeSWITCH (2)

anthm (894202) | about 10 months ago | (#44101825)

I guess nobody realized that hangouts is migrating to use WebRTC. If so my comment would not be moderated.

Re:We Just added WebRTC support to FreeSWITCH (2)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 10 months ago | (#44101951)

What the fuck is WebRTC? (rethorical question, since I had to google and wikipedia it)
And if it works, will it be secure or will any random javascript garbage you get by browsing the web be able to listen to what reaches your microphone?
"Free" voice chat services that are recorded? (if only so the admin can fap at sex chat)

Saves me from having to buy cheap cellphones (5, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | about 10 months ago | (#44101129)

For Craigslist and other uses for a disposable number where I don't trust the other party, Google Voice is very handy. Just this use alone makes it worth having.

Re:Saves me from having to buy cheap cellphones (2)

garcia (6573) | about 10 months ago | (#44101353)


I use it on my LinkedIn profile so that recruiters don't learn my real number but can still get in touch with me easily.

Re:Saves me from having to buy cheap cellphones (3, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 10 months ago | (#44101433)

And saves me from having to type back a message on my touchscreen when I'm at my computer, I can use the keyboard.

"But app integration!!!" That's stupid. Unless the app somehow sprouts a physical keyboard from the phone, all other messaging systems are second class compared to google voice in my book.

Re:Saves me from having to buy cheap cellphones (1)

rsborg (111459) | about 10 months ago | (#44102761)

For Craigslist and other uses for a disposable number where I don't trust the other party, Google Voice is very handy. Just this use alone makes it worth having.

Same here - I put my GV# on all my emails. I whitelist family/friends (and encourage them to use my direct number instead) but let everyone else hit voicemail with a message that says I'll call back soon.

I also give out my GV number to all those places that "require" a phone number. People/companies that you have done business with can legitimately spam you, and GV shields you from this kind of spam.

Furthermore, when I switched providers (from Verizon to TMobile), GV allowed me to have a semi-normal operation (combined with forwarding from old phone) during the month-long evaluation period (had to take this seriously - and yes, Tmobile is really decent for data/coverage in San Jose).

Doesn't work outside of US (5, Insightful)

elh_inny (557966) | about 10 months ago | (#44101135)

Which means it's still very much a niche product.
Once it works in Europe, China and India then we can talk about it having any signficant market share.
Even if every single person in the US switched to Google Voice I think it would still be less users than Skype has already...

Re:Doesn't work outside of US (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#44101213)

Yeah, and Google has a habit of cutting of niche products on a whim......

Re:Doesn't work outside of US (5, Informative)

Trimaxion (2933647) | about 10 months ago | (#44101383)

Yup. If you like Google Voice, don't upgrade to Hangouts yet. I did so a while ago, and admittedly, Hangouts is pretty cool, but it comes with a surprise: it takes away your ability to make outbound GV calls in the GMail interface. Fortunately there was an option to downgrade to the old chat interface.

Engadget says that the phone calling feature will be returned in Hangouts 'soon'... http://www.engadget.com/2013/05/20/hangouts-upgrade-disables-outbound-google-voice-calls-in-desktop/ [engadget.com]

Re:Doesn't work outside of US (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101393)

I don't see "US Only" as being much of a problem as you infer.

Re:Doesn't work outside of US (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 10 months ago | (#44101457)

A niche the size of the US is not really that small of a niche. I realize we tend to be very america-centric, and I apologize for that, but come on, we're not talking about something that only works on the rock of Gibraltar.

Re:Doesn't work outside of US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101933)

The conversation is about why GV is a second class product, the first class products work internationally.

It's an easy problem to solve.

Re:Doesn't work outside of US (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 10 months ago | (#44102825)

It's an easy problem to solve.

Yeah, somebody needs to code up an answering machine app.

Re:Doesn't work outside of US (1)

gr8dude (832945) | about 10 months ago | (#44101611)

It works in Europe, but only for texting (you cannot make calls).

The program won't install itself using via the market, so you have to install the APK manually.

I've been using it for several years now.

Re:Doesn't work outside of US (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101679)

Exactly, this is the main issue with it. Skype works just fine world wide, why does Google Voice have to be so far behind? We are in a global world, and a national communication framework has not place on the internet. It does not just limit you to calling numbers in the US (at least for free), it also limits you to calling from the US.

Sometimes Google has great ideas, but then does not follow up. This is a product that is lingering, and has been for some time. Either they get serious about it, or it will be axed like so many other projects.

Re:Doesn't work outside of US (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#44102249)

Which means it's still very much a niche product.
Once it works in Europe, China and India then we can talk about it having any signficant market share.
Even if every single person in the US switched to Google Voice I think it would still be less users than Skype has already...

and if google weren't idiots they would integrate the Voice to android so the messages from it would appear as normal messages.. it's not that hard.

USA-only (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101139)

As long as companies keep releasing their product exclusively to the USA, they're sure to fail at gaining any traction.

Re:USA-only (1)

Curtman (556920) | about 10 months ago | (#44101801)

Or even more strange, make it available to only one small region of another country.

I got my Google voice account by using a VPN and VOIP to U.S. servers. Its pretty well useless without integration with my home phone or my android phone though. Asterisk and MightyText give me basically the same features I'm missing out on.

Biggest problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101161)

It's Google.

email to SMS gateway is badly needed (2)

jaymz666 (34050) | about 10 months ago | (#44101169)

Instead of me having to use real SMS for company pages, an email to Google Voice messaging would be a very handy replacement. Instead of being tied to a single device I could get alerts on all my google voice outlets and not worry about SMS overages

Re:email to SMS gateway is badly needed (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 10 months ago | (#44102107)

In my country SMS have become free, but that took a new cell phone operator to come to the market. Before that they would gorge themselves with a cost of about 10 to 15 euro cents per SMS sent, though you could get unlimited SMS as part of a contract or option, or had a set of about 100 or 1000 SMS you can send before you have to pay per message.

Re:email to SMS gateway is badly needed (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 10 months ago | (#44102267)

you want to send sms's by email? here you go https://www.google.com/search?q=sms+gateway+service&oq=sms+gateway+service&aqs=chrome.0.57j0l3j62l2.3074j0&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 [google.com]

you can also send them via http and whatever imaginable protocol you can think of. it's not free of course.

Re:email to SMS gateway is badly needed (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | about 10 months ago | (#44102693)

No, I want to receive emails to google voice. Like you can for verizon, att, sprint etc. email to SMS gateways

Re:email to SMS gateway is badly needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44102639)

Why the hell would you still accept SMS??

I accept E-Mail and XMPP/Jingle ONLY. With or without encryption / signature.
I don't even have a physical mailbox anymore. Or a landline.
I want to get rid of my mobile phone number too, but there's still no proper contract that officially supports it.

Fuck everything else. *Especially* WhatsCrap and Gaype. (As in ga(ping) (Sk)ype, not gay Sky(pe). Gays are cool.)
Stop living in the past! Get with the times! It's actually a *lot* better!

I used to like it... (1)

Scutter (18425) | about 10 months ago | (#44101173)

...until they featured "improved" integration with my cell carrier. I used it for voicemail and transcription only. Now, if I try to replace my carrier voicemail with Google Voice, it also replaces my cell phone number with my GVoice number, all my texts come from GVoice, etc. I can't seem to simply redirect voicemail to it any more. Good service, but it needs better integration and more granular control.

Re:I used to like it... (1)

crow (16139) | about 10 months ago | (#44101201)

I use it exactly the way you described, and it works fine with Verizon. You need to sign up for Google Voice Lite. I have had trouble with the voice app occasionally not getting a notification that new voicemail is available, and I don't usually get a transcription of the message right away, but it's still vastly better than the default Verizon voicemail.

Re:I used to like it... (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | about 10 months ago | (#44101301)

On T-mobile. No problems using it just for VM here.

Re:I used to like it... (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about 10 months ago | (#44101827)

Same on Sprint. No problems using it with voicemail only at all.

Re:I used to like it... (1)

Scutter (18425) | about 10 months ago | (#44101875)

On Sprint here. When I renewed my contract and went to set up my new phone, GVoice took over completely. I can't find any way to use it for voicemail only, but when I originally set it up it was before Sprint's "full integration" with Google Voice. I'd be thrilled if you can tell me how to use it for voicemail only.

Re:I used to like it... (1)

Christophotron (812632) | about 10 months ago | (#44102711)

I always clicked "NO" to those Sprint/Google integration prompts. As in-- do not choose either option, and close this dialog box. That means I still have two distinct phone numbers, one associated only with the telco, and one associated with Google that will redirect to your cell phone (or not redirect, if you choose). The way it should be. Integration with the telco kind of defeats the purpose of Google voice, IMO. If you only have a Google voice number then it's already too late, you are fully integrated and must always use Google voice for everything.

Re: I used to like it... (1)

jsh1972 (1095519) | about 10 months ago | (#44101947)

It integrates quite well with Sprint, the voicemails show in the phone app call log in Android 4.0+, I believe. Is that not app integration? It's really the only integrationi want, other than with hangouts.

Google Voice: Add PER CONTACT calling preference (2)

Kevoco (64263) | about 10 months ago | (#44101179)

I don't know why GV is not better integrated into my phone. My choices in GV settings are to use GV for ALL calls, NO calls, or PROMPT when calling. If you use PROMPT when calling, you are then asked, on a per call basis, if you wish to make the call with GV or not. But there's no "Remember this choice for this contact" checkbox, and to me it's an incredibly lame oversight. It is for this reason alone that I have GV set to NO calls, and only use GV for received voicemails. I used to use the GV Chrome extension to send text messages, but instead I bought BrowserTexting (a combination of an Android app and Chrome extension) to see and send SMS from my computer.

Hangout / Voice / Talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101199)

I want a neat and simple IM Application e.g. WhatsApp based on standards like XMPP - Removing Talk has pushed google to death for me. I dont need and dont want Hangout or Voice - I live in a rural area and bandwidth is scarce so no Voice or Video chat for me ...

So for me i switched to using my own XMPP/Jabber service - Prosody was quick and simple to set up.

Re:Hangout / Voice / Talk (1)

CaptBubba (696284) | about 10 months ago | (#44101315)

The Talk to Hangouts conversion was/is awful awful; the new app doesn't even show status identifiers. I'm so glad I had a backup of the talk app to use.

Yes features can be nice but not when they come at the expense of useability!

Re:Hangout / Voice / Talk (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 10 months ago | (#44102021)

I haven't been able to get video to work from/to a computer since the conversion.

This was to me Google Talk's killer feature. It just worked, and since basically everyone I knew used gmail, it just worked without any extra effort.

Not I am using Skype, which I hate (tries too hard to be always on, and makes noises for everything)

Google Voice is amazing (4, Insightful)

slaker (53818) | about 10 months ago | (#44101219)

Google Voice does a number of things far better than any other system that more than make up for whatever deficiencies the author believes it might have.

I will preface this by saying that I am a Sprint cellular customer, so Google Voice can be fully integrated into my telephone service.

1. My cell number is integrated in to Google Voice. This means that I can answer calls from anyplace I happen to be logged in to the desktop version of Gmail or have the Google Voice app installed. This means that I do not need to have my phone tied to my actual person 24 hours a day. I can answer a call while I'm reading on a tablet in my bathtub or while my phone is charging in another room.

2. Google Voice transcribes voicemails so that they are delivered as E-mails, so that I don't have to listen to them. This is worth actual money to me. I hate voice mail with a passion.

3. I dislike SMS messages because, again, I don't like having to have my telephone permanently anchored to my body. Google Voice allows me to filter and deliver SMS messages as if they were E-mails and to respond to them as such. SMS messages never hit my phone. I've never opened the SMS app on it. I just respond to e-mails. Again, this is a tremendously valuable service.

If I'm missing something from not having texts delivered to my phone, I don't know and I don't care what that is, because as far as I'm concerned, Google Voice is doing every single thing I want it to already.

Re:Google Voice is amazing (2)

pspahn (1175617) | about 10 months ago | (#44101439)

I use GV as my phone number. I haven't paid for cell service in years. One thing I'm going to go ahead and call you out on is the voicemail transcription. Here is an actual transcription that I received last night.

Hey person, what's up man. It's Meyer. I wanna talk to you about. The way I have been able to. Sir if I don't have your address. I did her phone number so if you could. Gimme a call back as soon as you get a chance if you got the number here pretty soon.

As you can see, leaves quite a bit to be desired. I can't say it's even improved much in the last couple of years, because it hasn't. Most of the time, the voicemail transcribes as "Unable to transcribe this message".

While it is definitely a great tool that I use everyday, the voicemail transcription is near useless.

Re:Google Voice is amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101675)

I've found that the transcription is acceptable, at least to the point that I have a general idea why someone has called. I have a co-worker who loves leaving me five minute long voice mails that could be stripped down to a single noun and verb, so any fucking thing that gives me a break from that is not just welcome but essential.

Re:Google Voice is amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101977)

I would have agreed with you a couple years ago, but if anything, the transcription quality has gotten worse. I can rarely figure out what the caller's intended message was unless I already know what they were calling about. Still, having that email sitting in my inbox reminding me that I have a voicemail is valuable. Being able to play the message back from email or from my handset is valuable--even though the Google Voice app is slow and finicky about the network.

I also value the ability to give out my GVoice number to someone and then be able to block them. I've only had to do that a couple times, but it's still a nice feature.

Could it get better--undoubtedly. Would I pay for it in its current form? Probably a bit, though not that much? I'd pay a whole lot more if two things were fixed:

1. Improve voicemail transcription. It really is god awful now.
2. Enable sending pictures through google voice. I don't know if this is technically feasible but I miss this feature.

Re:Google Voice is amazing (1)

swillden (191260) | about 10 months ago | (#44101845)

It may depend on the accents and speech patterns of those who call you, but I find that GV transcriptions generally do a reasonable job of giving me the gist of the message. I'd say I have to actually listen to the message maybe 30% of the time, and even then it's usually just to clarify the details.

Re:Google Voice is amazing (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | about 10 months ago | (#44101853)

I agree, it needs work, but I can generally understand what someone is talking about in the transciption. It's also good for a laugh.

Re:Google Voice is amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101883)

If your voice is a male, native californian, the transcription works pretty well. For anyone else - it sucks. Here's one I got the other day from some illegal direct marketer (whose number is now blocked in GV):

Wanted to pitch their Hill soon, but you know Rights Network that was call that and if you have a great morning. You.

Yeah, not so good.

Here's one from my wife (native Californian female):

Hey, it's me. I just cannot. I about bye bye do hanging in there. Later has hey, if you're gonna you know I love you bye bye.

Still not so good.

Re:Google Voice is amazing (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 10 months ago | (#44102397)

Here's one from my wife (native Californian female):

Hey, it's me. I just cannot. I about bye bye do hanging in there. Later has hey, if you're gonna you know I love you bye bye.

Still not so good.

I don't understand... isn't that just how California girls talk?

Re:Google Voice is amazing (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 10 months ago | (#44102567)

I live in the midwest with the appropriate midwest accent and I rarely have trouble understanding voicemails I receive. But here's a great voicemail I got from my wife last month:

Hey it's me. I just wanted to remind you to get some friends. I need that for your check, why you're out bye bye

Here's one from a couple years ago:

Hey check it me, does not Texas. Go. And also I don't know. I'll talk to you later. Bye. I love you, Mom.

Re:Google Voice is amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44102323)

Yeah, though I find it's good enough to get an idea of a subject the person is calling about. In this case, I'd guess they want an address and/or phone number for you or someone else. If you know the caller by "Meyer" or the phone number, then you can probably fill in the gaps. For me, I use it more to screen calls (usually when I'm already on a call) when I need to know if it's important enough to handle immediately.

Sprint Integration Issues (1)

Guppy (12314) | about 10 months ago | (#44101621)

I am also a Sprint customer with Google Voice integration. For the most part things work smoothly, but I have some complaints.

One major problem is that there are no options for altering the behavior of a permanent secondary line. I cannot delete or suspend it, and cannot change the number (it is possible to change the number for a single primary, but this option is unavailable for a permanent secondary). If there is a way to selectively forward all calls from the secondary number to voicemail, I can't find it.

It's a bit of annoyance, because it turns out my permanent secondary number turned out to be very similar to the main number of a large company. I get up to a couple of wrong number calls a month, and it is starting to get annoying. At this point, I am considering de-integration from Sprint, so I can delete or change the number. However, there are a large number of people on the Google Voice forums that ran into glitches when de-integrating and re-integrating; not sure if the problems were ever fixed, and whether I should take the risk that something will break.

Re:Google Voice is amazing (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 10 months ago | (#44101673)

I'm also a Sprint customer who uses Google Voice. Regarding your three points:

1. This is why I use GV. Useful.

2. GV's transcription has such amazingly low accuracy that it's good for comedy, but not for understanding about 50% of messages. Late 1990s Dragon Naturally Speaking was far more accurate. Even Siri makes maybe a tenth as many mistakes. When I compare to the recorded voicemail I hear clear, normal American accents speaking clearly where my messages show up as things like "Easter...go between store nine fig pie hand turkey...Eugene pizazz." As another power has mentioned, Google has the worst voice transcription available.

3. I already use other email-SMS bridge services when necessary and never switched.

Re:Google Voice is amazing (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 10 months ago | (#44102367)

3. I dislike SMS messages because, again, I don't like having to have my telephone permanently anchored to my body. Google Voice allows me to filter and deliver SMS messages as if they were E-mails and to respond to them as such. SMS messages never hit my phone.

Google Voice sucks at SMS, and MMS is simply dropped. For you, that apparently seems to be considered a feature. For most people, though, it's not. I don't know if you've noticed, but SMS/MMS is how most people seem to communicate nowadays.

Re:Google Voice is amazing (5, Funny)

bitt3n (941736) | about 10 months ago | (#44102411)

my favorite part of google voice is leaving a message for someone who uses it, and they read the transcript as "human-sized mango octopus glovebox get scammed by the hamburglar one sousaphone excoriated in the afterlife," and then they listen to the message to find out what I actually said, and they find out that's actually what I said.

Re:Google Voice is amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44102569)

I used to use Vonage for the text transcriptions, it was a pay service, but it was far better than google's transcriptions.

Please, not hangout (4, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | about 10 months ago | (#44101311)

Hangout is great, I get it. If they REALLY implemented Voice in Hangout I'd be fine if it were just as simple to utilize.

However, what I don't want is when my Aunt Tilly wants to call me that I say "wait, I don't have a phone number any more - just go to the local library where they have broadband, ask them to install the Google Talk plugin or whatever, and start a hangout with me." Oh, and I'd like it to still ring my home phone, which is just a phone (not a smartphone, not a cell phone - a handset, two pairs of wires, and about $1 in circuitry).

I love Google Voice because it is a bridge that allows me to interface modern technologies like the web/mobile/etc with basic telephony (SMS, PSTN/etc) which are used by everybody who isn't under the age of 25.

Re:Please, not hangout (1)

hypergreatthing (254983) | about 10 months ago | (#44102463)

You can integrate google voice with a bunch of SIP hardware devices like obihai 100/110. Getting it to integrate with google voice is a breeze. Getting 911 on it is a bit trickier, but without 911 it's a free to use phone number that can be access with your gmail account. Best thing is that once the device is up and running you plug your home phone into it.

SMS via keyboard (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | about 10 months ago | (#44101347)

The ONLY reason I use Google Voice is that it allows me to easily send and receive SMS messages via a web interface. Who the hell wants to type out messages on a cell phone when you can do it on a full keyboard, without messing with your phone.

If I could do that with my real T-Mobile number, via some T-Mobile web interface, I'd use that instead. Why the hell isn't that an easy thing to do? SMS via website?

Re:SMS via keyboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101573)

I imagine it's less about being easy to do and more about being a way for cell phone providers to force you to buy their hardware in order to use their network. In which case, allowing sms without the phone would mean some miniscule amount of less money. Obviously unacceptable, heh...

Needs an Official App (1)

Beardydog (716221) | about 10 months ago | (#44101355)

I use a Google Voice number exclusively, and I'd be thrilled to have any kind of usable first-party iOS app. There are about 500 apps that will let me check my voicemail and initiate a callback-call from a cellphone or landline, but as far as I know, Talkatone is the only one that does actual in-app VoIP, and I'd club a seal for a crisp, clean Google version... or at least some more options.

Google Voice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101369)

Google Voice has always been second class. Less reliable and worse quality than Skype. Poorly integrated in Android. I'm bitter as an early user who had big dreams.

Dial-out support from data only devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101375)

That's all they need to do, stick a shiv in cellular service companies and be done with them once and for all. I know it is possible to do this with some convoluted setup, but I want Google to officially support it. I have no need for voice and text service on my cellular data plan, just the same as I have no need for TV and Phone service on my home Internet plan.

Taxes is the reason why this will never happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44102877)

If Google did this they'd have to pay the same taxes as any other VOIP provider. The only reason, they don't now is because they aren't providing a dial tone. Say goodbye to free google voice, and hello to paying Universal Service Fund fees and state and local taxes on it.

Why Tracfone Can't Call My Google Voice Number? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101379)

1) Why can't my tracfone call my google voice number? ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! :
2) Why doesn't google voice allow sending/receiving pictures via sms?

Re:Why Tracfone Can't Call My Google Voice Number? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 10 months ago | (#44101855)

Tracphone refuses to update routing tables to include most VoIP companies. STOP USING TRACPHONE.

Very disappointed with Voice app for iPhone (1)

BetterSense (1398915) | about 10 months ago | (#44101403)

I use Gvoice for my personal calls and messages on my work phone. This is a good system because I can keep my number when I change jobs, but still use my work phone which I have to carry anyway.

I'm honestly surprised how bad the user experience is when using the Voice app for iPhone 4. I seriously wonder if I got some kind of counterfeit app (if that would even be possible), the usability is THAT bad.

Gvoice text messages pop up on the lock screen instantly, but then when I go to view them, I have to open the Gvoice app (slow) then "refresh conversations" (very slow) in order to even read the full message again. There is no excuse for this since if the phone displayed the text on the lock screen, what could I possibly be waiting for? How long can it take to display a few kB of text that has already downloaded?

For texting, when in a "conversation view", new texts almost never update properly. The only way to update the conversation view is to scroll to the TOP of the conversation (even though the newest messages are at the _bottom_!) in order to trigger the "updating conversations..." function. Of course a single conversation can be many pages long. Which means the fastest way to refresh the conversation (which I shouldn't have to be doing, since the text already displayed on banner and the lock screen...) I still have to navigate back to inbox and refresh, and wait. WTF? This is such a usability bug that I can't believe anyone would ship it.

Text conversations are not threaded properly at all. I have to constantly delete old conversation branches.

For voice, there is NO proper call history. NO CALL HISTORY!!?? There is a "dialer" and a "quick dial" but no way to call someone back based on history. And you can't revert back to the iPhone's proper call history either, because the numbers that show up in the iPhone history are random numbers to google servers. I honestly never thought I would use a phone that did not have a usable call history.

Re:Very disappointed with Voice app for iPhone (1)

swb (14022) | about 10 months ago | (#44101993)

I want an iOS GoogleVoice to work like Line2, using VoIP for calling and with cellular callback as a last resort.

I'd use the hell out of it if it worked that way.

tech bypassed google voice (1)

alen (225700) | about 10 months ago | (#44101427)

SMS? cool and expensive last decade. now most new cell phone plans offer unlimited SMS. same with prepaid.
most new cell phone plans offer unlimited minutes in the USA to any phone as well. no point in using google voice to save your day time minutes

i dumped my land line phone a long time ago because my cell phone is unlimited minutes. unlimited SMS means i have lots of subscriptions like NYC Subway text alerts coming into my phone.

i've had google voice for years and rarely use anymore

Ugh, GV is a failure (1)

eudaemon (320983) | about 10 months ago | (#44101449)

I am an avid consumer of most google products. But Google Voice is just too unreliable to merit serious consideration. My texts randomly show up 12, 16, 18 hours later with no rhyme or reason. Sometimes it's when I restart my phone, switch between wifi and the network, sometimes it's just because. Plus the failure to support MMS except in limited circumstances.

Re:Ugh, GV is a failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101531)

I cannot get forwarded calls to my SIP line, so its useless to me except as an external dialer.

Poor reliability (1)

AMDinator (996330) | about 10 months ago | (#44101477)

I just ditched Google Voice after using it for 2-3 years because it's incredibly unreliable. Missed/late deliveries of texts, incoming calls that don't arrive and go straight to voicemail (with an occasional notification that I even have one!), and messages that won't even send without a reboot. I'm far from the only one either. Sorry Google, but I need my phone to actually work as a phone. I guess I got what I paid for.

Re:Poor reliability (1)

mrbester (200927) | about 10 months ago | (#44102489)

You've been able to use it for three years?! Seriously, Google, sort your shit out and release it to ROW already!

By the time they do, it'll be so old no one will want to use it...

Remember Google Reader (1)

fruity_pebbles (568822) | about 10 months ago | (#44101487)

Google killed off Google Reader because it "only" had about a million users. (Although based on the number of new Feedly users it's likely that the number was a lot higher than that.) Google Voice has about 3.5 million users, and while it has a lot of great features it also has a lot of limitations and quirks that have been there a while and there's no sign of Google addressing them. Now Google says that Hangouts is the future, but I suspect the transition is going to be akin to pulling the rug out from under Google Voice users, similar to the way that Google Reader users were "transitioned".

Full disclosure: I'm not a Google Voice user. I used to be a very satisfied Google Reader user.

Re:Remember Google Reader (1)

rsborg (111459) | about 10 months ago | (#44102847)


I can't imagine Google Reader costs more than Google Voice or even anywhere near as much. Yet, they cut reader while keeping voice.
Cost isn't the reason Reader doesn't exist. Lack of engagement on G+ is why. The stupid part of the Reader debacle is that there isn't a Reader replacement in G+.

I won't be surprised, now that Google profits from phone companies' gouging their users (just like Apple, Blackberry and other handset manufacturers do), that they eventually drop voice as well, or just say it's an Android-only offering (not useful for us iOS users) or again, replaced as a G+ "feature".

3rd class from lack of MMS and group texts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101507)

Until it has MMS working and group messaging, the text service through Google Voice will be 3rd class in my book (although, I use it daily to save on basic text messaging).

Works for me (1)

dugancent (2616577) | about 10 months ago | (#44101527)

I ditched my cell texting plan and switched to using Google Voice, saving $360/year (had family texting on AT&T). People complain that they have to text a different number, but they can get over it.

It's my understanding they are going to integrate it with Google Hangouts soon.

Google, please don't make everything social (1)

monkeyhybrid (1677192) | about 10 months ago | (#44101557)

Google employee Nikhyl Singhal wrote in a Google+ post that 'Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice.'

I wish Google weren't insistant on melding their existing services with their social platform, or dropping them altogether to concentrate on Google+ alternatives. I'm not particularly interested in Google+ and definitely won't be coerced to use it in order to use some of Google's otherwise very good services.

Facebook won the social game before Google ever entered it and there's not a chance in hell Google will overturn them now. Concentrate on your core services and keep your users happy, or you will lose them.

Re:Google, please don't make everything social (1)

User1138 (2948625) | about 10 months ago | (#44101737)

Google knows that facebook is sitting on a treasure trove of data. How does google make its money -- through advertising. Part of the social networking is to get users to divulge more personal information which google can use to target advertisements. Being that mobile advertisement clicks incur less revenue than desktop browser clicks, it is only natural for google to look other places I agree with you. Facebook has won the social networking war and nothing (aside maybe an antitrust suit from the DOJ) is really going to change it. Perhaps in the way future facebook will go the way of myspace but as we have seen with Microsoft Windows, sometimes things just don't go away.

Convenience, not function (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 10 months ago | (#44101615)

Google Voice is what it is. It's not a replacement for your phone, and it's not a real instant messaging platform. It won't get support from vendors until Google decides what kind of beast it is, or what it will be merged with.

google+, hangouts, google wave, google reader's lost social functions, and so on...there's no reason to develop for it because nobody knows what its future holds, including both its existence and its compatibility with whatever features they build it on.

It's handy at work, not much else (1)

Dylan Critchfield (2882653) | about 10 months ago | (#44101623)

I use Google Voice during my work day since I can't have my phone on me in the building. Handy to have since my outside facing phone # can change from time to time and I can just forward GVoice calls to my office phone. It's also nice to be able to text family/friends about plans, things needing done, etc, but outside of work? I hardly touch it. I keep the app on my phone to see if I get responses after I leave the office, but I more often than not just switch to my phone's messaging app.

Google doesn't want integration (1, Insightful)

Dracos (107777) | about 10 months ago | (#44101645)

Google doesn't want seamless integration with existing/external normative systems. Gmail uses a bizarre facsimile of IMAP. Google Talk killed Jabber support a few weeks ago. Voice is not really a phone service, stop thinking of it as one.

Sorry Google, just because you're putting chain link and razor wire around your garden (instead of masonry) doesn't make it any better. Hangouts will be the graveyard for all these services that users don't want bolted together, but are walled off from everything else.

Viable Replacements? (1)

Horn (517263) | about 10 months ago | (#44101691)

Google voice seems destined for the chopping block but when it works I love the product. Are there any viable replacements, even if they cost money?

Google Voice is good for certain things (1)

Kimomaru (2579489) | about 10 months ago | (#44101717)

I must chuckle, a fair number of people I know and even in this thread have mentioned that they use Google numbers as a cover number for recruiters. I do, too. So, I'm grateful that Google provides this service, but just how it translates to dollars is slightly baffling. Using Google's service as they're intended is a really bad idea, but using them cautiously (i.e; not using your real identity) doesn't exacly help Google pay for these services either.

Herp Derp moment.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 10 months ago | (#44101773)

"Most apps that do neat things with incoming texts, like read them out loud when you're driving, can't work with Voice. "

Duh, just listen to the audio file message, really easy to do.

Re:Herp Derp moment.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44102041)

It's an incoming TEXT message that was sent as a text essage, not a voicemail.

Re:Herp Derp moment.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44102657)

Nobody uses GV for texting, everyone knows it takes forever for them to deliver. And he was talking about the Speech to text messages obviousally, which 99% of the time are so wrong it's hilarious.

MMS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44101915)

IMHO the biggest and most obvious missing feature is the ability to send and receive images and group texts. There's nothing worse than your friends sending group texts from their iphone and you're left out, ever. damn. time. Once they get that fixed then we'll worry about trifling stuff like app integration.

Yes, 2nd class, but worthwhile anyway. (2)

eriks (31863) | about 10 months ago | (#44101943)

I use GV as my "primary" cellphone #. Granted, I don't actually use my "phone" as a phone very often. I pay next to nothing for cell service, since my phone is connected to wifi most of the time. Sipdroid + GV, while probably only about 95% reliable works well enough for me -- I have had issues with texts not getting forwarded properly, though I solved that by having all texts sent to gmail. It's slightly inconvenient to have two "cell" numbers, though most people i know can deal with that. The voicemail transcription is pretty neat, works well enough, and is often hilarious. I'd pay a reasonable yearly fee for GV. It's my impression that GV mostly exists because google is interested in optimizing its voice recognition system. I sometimes "donate" accurate translations of my voicemails.

I'd pay a reasonable fee for GV, especially if there was an app that properly integrated it with the android dialer (sipdroid is really a hack).

Google is a bitch (1)

mynameiskhan (2689067) | about 10 months ago | (#44102063)

What if I adopt it and make it a mainstay and then big G decides to junk it a la Reader? Recent google breakups have weakened many a hearts!

The next Google product to be killed (2)

Ralph Barbagallo (2881145) | about 10 months ago | (#44102091)

I'm convinced Google Voice is the next Google product on the chopping block. It hasn't been upgraded in years, it's still kind of wonky. I love it, and use it as replacement for iPhone's Visual Voicemail. Plus it's awesome when traveling out of the country. And the ability to filter callers etc. is just basic stuff that should be available to any mobile customer. They have slightly updated the web interface by integrating it into Hangouts with the new GMail--but they also removed the ability to make calls from GMail. It's only a matter of time before Google kills it.

I would be happy if GVoice was a 2nd class product (1)

BLToday (1777712) | about 10 months ago | (#44102103)

Google's support for Voice has been abysmal. Almost zero improvement in 2-3 years. I still can't get SMS to work a lot of the times. SMS verification for other services, never work. Can't use GVoice's VOIP service with an iPhone, so not much of a Skype replacement. I know the VOIP service works with a desktop browser but they refuse to implement it on the mobile app. Sometimes, you just can't get to a real computer and only have a tablet or smartphone on you. And when you can make a VOIP call, the quality is terrible and I would have to fall back to Skype.

Google Voice is just Grand Central (1)

Animats (122034) | about 10 months ago | (#44102159)

Google Voice is just the old Grand Central service. Google has done very little to it since they bought the company.

  • It's horribly inefficient of network bandwidth. You have to read several megabytes of data to find out that you have no new messages.
  • The phone numbers used are purchased from some third-tier phone reseller that doesn't have good access to the US phone number database. So some carriers don't recognize Google Voice numbers as accepting SMS.
  • The interface to the service uses both XML and JSON on the same page, and any program that talks to it must parse both. "Conversations" have unique IDs, but individual messages do not, and it's tough to extract new messages exactly once. You have to page through screen after screen of stored messages, and explicitly archive inactive conversations to declutter the output.
  • All those problems have been outstanding for years.

If you want to deal with phone and SMS messages from a program, look at Twilio. It's not free, but it actually works.

Re:Google Voice is just Grand Central (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 10 months ago | (#44102305)

Yeah, Google Voice is really a poorly designed service with a lot of problems. I tried using it as my main number for a while; but without even some basic functionality like MMS (which even the crappiest feature phones have supported for years) it's just too crippled.

That omission still floors me. Google bought GrandCentral in 2007 - how can it still not include MMS?

I didn't know Google Voice was US only (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 10 months ago | (#44102221)

I've just learnt today on this slashdot page that Google Voice was restricted to the US and if I had ever wanted to use it I would have been unable to do so. I didn't even know what it did anyway (be some sort of Skype, connecting to real old phone networks), I supposed it was some sort of Voice mail of voice chat for Google Talk.
Seeing that Google Talk is deprecated, that's two Google services I will never have to worry about anyway.

I don't have a gmail btw, still using the same Yahoo webmail account since 2001. With the NSA shitnitz, I've stopped logging in to youtube (which only serves to pretend you're an adult so you can watch videos flagged as fap material) and this way I'm not logged in to Google against my wish.

Summary of Google Voice (on T-mobile Samsung S3) (2)

JustNiz (692889) | about 10 months ago | (#44102349)

I do use Google Voice on my Samsung S3 however it has its faults. Here's a list of downs and ups:

1) With GV, The outgoing call log becomes useless as Instead of showing the number you actually dialled, it lists the automatically assigned arbitrary proxy numbers Google Voice uses. These numbers are all over the US (even when placing local calls) so you can't even figure out which state you were calling, let alone which number.

2) I'm a Brit living in the US and am particualarly bugged by this one: Even though you can make and receive calls internationally, GV won't let you text internationally, so that means you have to use your service's texting so now the text recipient gets to see your real phone number (which negates the main benefit of GV). It also means the Voice app can't be your primary/only text message reader, as it is designed to be.

3) making calls via GV is occasionally spotty: Sometimes you cant get a connection via GV even when you can natively. Also sometimes calls dont connect properly (e.g. one side can hear but not speak to the other)

4) If you answer an incoming call too quickly, (i.e. within 1 or 2 rings ) you get this stupid intermediate voice telling you to type 1 on the keypad to confirm you're not an automated answering machine or something. Its the most retarded and frustratingly annoying thing I've ever had to deal with, especially as the Android phone app doesn't bring up a keypad when you answer a call, so now you have to jump through 2 more button presses.

Its not like its really stopping automated systems wither as they could easily fake that out by either not answering immediately or just also sending a '1' button press when they do.

5) The notification bar in android tells you when you get an incoming message, but even with voice installed, touching the notification opens the crappy native reader, not the voice one.

6) BY FAR THE WORST THING is that there is NO WAY to speak to or get any support from Google for any of its services including GV even the charged ones. They have a forum, but Google NEVER respond to anyone on there. A solution to most of my points, especially 4) has been requested many times on the forums by thousands of people, but Google apparently dont even read their own forum.

Now the good points:

3) International calling via GV is WAY cheaper per minute than T-Mobile even with their extra $5/month add-on for cheaper international service.

4) I really like being able to (usually) hide my actual phone number and just give out my GV one. This means I can easily change my actual phone number at any time. Just because of their crappy implementation, its not 100% foolproof though, as detailed above, sometimes giving out your actual number is still unavoidable.

Re:Summary of Google Voice (on T-mobile Samsung S3 (1)

rsborg (111459) | about 10 months ago | (#44102925)

Now the good points:

3) International calling via GV is WAY cheaper per minute than T-Mobile even with their extra $5/month add-on for cheaper international service.

Just a note - we pay TMobile $10/mo for unlimited long distance to countries like france and india (wife's line) - and unlimited SMS to cellphones in those countries. No worries, no overage. Does this not appear on your plan?

Regarding GV, it's just a nice little perk for me (kind of like my cheapo efax service - I have a fax at office and home, but being able to scan/pdf/fax digitally is worth $4/mo - GV is free and even more useful than the efax - but both are boosters to productivity they don't replace existing services/tools).

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