Google Voice Gets an Update and Is More Useful Than Ever

Ben Stegner 02-02-2017

Google is starting 2017 off right Make 2017 Your Most Productive Year Yet with 12 Baby Steps If you make one resolution for the new year, it should be to improve a little every day. We have prepared a 12-step program that will help you to transform your productivity habits. Read More with an update to its Google Voice service. First launched in 2009, Google Voice is a free service that provides users with a real phone number they can use on a variety of devices. With apps for Android, iOS, and the web, Voice is a great solution for anyone who needs a backup phone number 4 Good Reasons To Get an Emergency Burner Phone Your smartphone has tons of features, and that's a great thing. Sometimes, you just need a basic phone to keep around for emergencies. Let's look at why. Read More or wants one number to ring multiple devices.


If you’re an avid Voice user, you know that this update was a long time coming. Those who lost track of Google Voice might not even have known the service was still active. Let’s recap where exactly Google Voice has been and what the revamped app has to offer.

Note: Google Voice is only available in the United States. Those outside the U.S. can make calls with Google Hangouts (even on a tablet How to Call Phones from Your Android Tablet If you want to make calls from your Android tablet, these apps can help you out. Read More ).

Wait, Google Voice Is Still Alive?

Let’s take a look at how Google Voice started and where it is today.

A Bit of History

In 2007, a telephony service called GrandCentral was purchased by Google. Google Voice then launched in 2009, with an enhanced featured set based on that service. It was an invite-only service at first, attracting a lot of excitement. After Google dropped this in 2010, anyone with a Gmail account could join instantly. Voice continued along until 2014, when Google merged much of its feature set into Google Hangouts.

Meanwhile, Google Hangouts officially served as the replacement for the defunct messenger Google Talk, which stopped working in early 2015. Hangouts replaced a suite of services that Google killed off and serves as an all-in-one messaging service The Best All-in-One Messaging & Calling App for Android: Google Hangouts What if there was one app that could do it all? Meet Google Hangouts for Android. Read More . It supports instant messaging, video and voice calls, and even works as an SMS app. Google once tried to push Hangouts as the default Android texting app, which would have made it similar to iMessage on iOS.


However, Google has backed off Hangouts and now recommends Google Messenger for your Android SMS needs Text Better With These Alternative SMS Apps for Android Don't like your default SMS app? Try a new one! Read More . Further, Google is phasing Hangouts out of the preinstalled group of apps on new Android phones in favor of its new video calling app, Duo, and messaging app, Allo The Best of Google I/O 2016, Nokia Makes a Comeback... [Tech News Digest] Google reveals new products and services at I/O 2016, Nokia comes alive once more, a reminder that Facebook Live broadcasts are public, and the first teaser for the new Star Trek TV series. Read More .

On a side note, subscribers to Google’s Project Fi (which we’re fans of Is Project Fi Worth It? 7 Things to Know Before You Switch Google's Project Fi is a low-cost but powerful mobile plan. Here's what you need to know if you're thinking of switching to Project Fi. Read More ) can bring their Voice number to Fi. If you have a Voice number and want to transfer your carrier number or get a completely new number for Fi, your Google Voice number will be released and you can’t access it or Google Voice at all while you’re a Fi subscriber.

Voice and Hangouts

Confused yet? These rapid changes and replacement services are hard to follow, and we haven’t even touched on the relationship between Hangouts and Voice yet. After Google merged Hangouts and Voice functionality, the apps existed separately but performed much of the same function.

If you chose to link your Voice number with Hangouts, you could send SMS from your Voice number through Hangouts. The separate Hangouts Dialer app was required for making VOIP calls 3 Things to Know Before Switching to a VoIP Phone Plan Why is VoIP so popular? And is it in your best interest to switch to using a VoIP-only option that replaces your mobile plan? Here's what you need to know about it. Read More from Hangouts using your Voice number. However, you could use the Voice app for SMS and voicemail, and place calls through your phone’s dialer app using your Voice number and regular phone minutes. Until now, the Voice app was ugly and outdated, so many users stuck with Hangouts.


Essentially, you could use nearly all of the best features of Google Voice by simply having a Voice number that you used in Hangouts. With this new update, Voice users who don’t want to use Hangouts might just have a reason to use the Google Voice app again.

The New Google Voice

Before now, the Google Voice app looked straight out of 2012. It carried the Ice Cream Sandwich style Holo interface, and was simply not a pretty app. Have a look:

Google Voice Gets an Update and Is More Useful Than Ever Google Voice Old Android App

Now, everything looks great in true Material Design fashion Craving Some Material Design? Download These Great Android Apps Android 5.0 Lollipop is here, but to get the full effect, you need apps that stay true to the Material Design philosophy. We can help you find the best of them. Read More . The app keeps three separate tabs for SMS, calls, and voicemail, and it actually uses threaded conversations like the standard has been for years. You’ll also notice snappier animations, and modern conveniences like the quick-reply feature How to Get the Android Nougat Status Bar and Notifications Android Nougat has a cool new look for the status bar and your notifications, but you don't need to wait for the update to get it. Read More that lets you respond to messages right from your notification drawer.


Google Voice Gets an Update and Is More Useful Than Ever New Google Voice Apps

Aside from the new coat of paint, Google has made life a lot smoother for Google Voice users. Before this update, you had to use Hangouts to get MMS and group texts to work properly. Now, these work seamlessly right inside the Voice app — you can send off pictures just like any other messaging app 5 Best Free Messaging Apps for Android Need a free way to send messages to friends and family with your phone for free? Check out these apps. Read More . Of course, Voice staples like voicemail transcriptions are here and accounted for as well.

After five years of silence, Google has assured everyone that it will continue to update the Voice app with more features. If you prefer Hangouts, Voice integration isn’t going away there either. Google is rolling out the update over the next few weeks, so you might not see the updated apps and website yet. If you’re on Android, you can easily sideload the updated Google Voice app How to Sideload Any File onto Your Android Phone or Tablet You may have come across the term "sideloading" before, but what does it mean? And how can you go about sideloading apps or files? Read More in seconds by installing the official APK file.

If you’re interested in signing up for Google Voice after this update, you can choose between getting an all-new number from Google or porting an existing phone number. You’ll need to set an existing phone number as a “forwarding phone” that rings when your Google Voice number is called. Visit the Google Voice page to get started.


DownloadGoogle Voice for Android

Will You Jump on Voice?

Now you know all about Google Voice and how it’s been essentially stagnant for years. There’s really nothing else like the service out there, leading to its fans staying on board despite a lack of support for it from Google.

If the outdated app was keeping you from giving Voice a try, now is the perfect time! Whether you just want the voicemail to text feature or like the idea of calling from your Voice number to hide your real one The 5 Best Apps for a Temporary Burner Phone Number Need to stay hidden? These fake number apps let you generate a burner number so you keep your real phone number private. Read More , you’ve got nothing to lose by trying it.

For more from Google, check out these new awesome apps and features 5 New Google Apps and Features That Will Wow You Google has been on a roll lately. The Internet giant has launched more new apps and features to make life easier for its users. Let's find out some of the best ones. Read More .

Are you a Google Voice user? Will you try the service after this update, or do you have no need for it? Please let us know what you think about Google Voice by leaving a comment!

Explore more about: Google Hangouts, Google Voice, International Call.

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  1. Geoff
    August 31, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    I've found that I can use Google Voice to make and receive calls via Google Hangouts to US phone numbers from The United Kingdom.

    I used to have project fi, which I loved, but had to cancel when I returned to the UK. It worked fine, but it cost local people a fortune when they called me. I don't know why it works since GV isn't avaialble in the UK and I don't even get charged for the call.

    My BT SIM card charges me 40p to send an image even locally. My biggest complaint is that despite telling me WiFI calling is available with a compatible phone (my Motorola Moto X4 made WiFi calls with project fi) it has to be a BT phone.

  2. DeBorah Beatty
    August 7, 2019 at 4:41 am

    I have been a Google Voice user since the invite stage in 2009. I use it to have a business phone number and voicemail. It has been consistently reliable and I hope to see more upgrades down the road.

  3. Grateful Google Voice User
    October 28, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    I use my laptop more than I use my phone and the "new google voice" interface is awful on both. I won't repeat (read comments on this and any other review sites) all the ways in which the "new google voice" interface is a step down and down right user unfriendly, I will thank google for maintaining the user friendly original "legacy" interface because it is what I use every day. The original interface is FEATURE RICH, straightforward and is as easy to navigate as Gmail.

    • Kent K
      June 6, 2019 at 9:35 pm

      Yep, and two years later, the "new" Google Voice is pathetic. I don't understand why they can't incorporate most (if not all) of the necessary features from Legacy in the new voice. They should just call Legacy "more settings ... you know the ones you also need" from the menu.

  4. MS
    July 27, 2017 at 7:59 pm

    There appears to be a problem with this article. At least for me, it did not make clear that Google Voice is not suitable for someone who is looking to use their computer for making and receiving phone calls. It is only intended, apparently, for people who have a "device" (i.e. cell phone).

    • Carlos C
      July 28, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      I've been using Google voice since it was Grandcentral, I am able to use Google voice from my computer making phone calls with the help of hangouts. If you have a Gmail account you can try to get Google voice from your computer, get your free phone number and try to connect a call, it's free.

  5. hhh222
    April 24, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    The only good thing about the so called "updated" (should be "downdated") G Voice is that "Legacy" still exists, at least for now. Like so many "new and improved" products, it ain't.

    • Kent K
      June 6, 2019 at 9:35 pm

      YES! ^THIS^

  6. Roy
    April 24, 2017 at 7:23 am

    One thing that drives me crazy about GV is that you don't have the option to set specific numbers to dial out on your regular number. You have to choose every time or use GV every time. You can't exclude numbers from making the choice. Seems like that should be a priority fix.

  7. Unplugged
    April 14, 2017 at 5:59 am

    I will wait to install the Voice app until Google offers VoIP integration. Right now, only Hangouts has the VoIP .

  8. Rick Potter
    April 14, 2017 at 3:39 am

    I will give it a try. I used it years ago.

  9. Robert Johnstone
    March 26, 2017 at 2:07 am

    Google has totally screwed up the Click2Call feature in Voice. I have deleted the updated version from my iPhone and reinstalled a 2014 version to maintain the usability.
    I hate it when so much effort goes into breaking a usable product.

  10. Dan
    February 13, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Can no longer initiate a call with GV and have it ring the landline. Instead, when I tap the phone icon and enter a number all I can do is send a message. Bummer! In the past I could select a number call from.

    • D
      February 13, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      I couldn't agree more. This is what the GV help says:
      To call someone you haven’t called before, use your phone instead.

      To call someone you've already talked to:

      On your computer, open Google Voice.
      Open the tab for Messages Messages tab, Calls Calls tab, or Voicemail Voicemail tab.
      Open a text message, call, or voicemail with the other person.
      At the top right, click Call Call.
      Choose a linked number to use for the call. You'll get a call on your linked number.
      Accept the call. Your call will be connected to the other person.

      This is unacceptable. I used the online GV to ring my landline on my desk all the time. At least we still have Legacy GV for now...

      • Aaron
        February 15, 2017 at 1:00 am

        I discovered that you can still use the new Voice interface to make calls with your landline. Just use the Search field at the top of the page -- when you type in the name of the contact in the Search field, text and call icons will appear next to the contact. Just click the phone icon, and it will give you the option to choose which phone you'd like to use to call. If you pick your landline, it will still ring your landline and use it to make the call, like always.

        Of course, if you're trying to call somebody who isn't in your phone book, then it appears you're out of luck, which is pretty stupid.

  11. Truth Pooper
    February 12, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    I agree with the negative comments and will get to the constructive point.

    If the geniuses at GV are going to do anything differently they need to hear it directly via their feedback links, they truly live in their own world and do not care about what you post on this site. Open the Google Voice application > On the top left corner, click on the three vertical lined icon > select Help & feedback at the bottom of the list > click on Send feedback.

  12. srewobwj
    February 12, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    "You’ll need to set an existing phone number as a “forwarding phone” that rings when your Google Voice number is called. "

    FWIW, the above statement is at least partially incorrect. That is, you don't have to have your forwarding phone ring when someone calls your GV number. In my case, I use my GV number as a land line replacement that rings on my computer, only. So while it's true that you have to associate your GV number with another telephone number, you don't have to have it ring through to anything, if you don't want to.

    My biggest disappointment with the new Google Voice is that there's still no way to place outgoing calls from within the app or on the GV web page. Instead, you have to use the Hangouts Dialer (when on mobile) and Gmail Chat or Hangouts on the web (when on PC) to place calls. It makes no sense, whatsoever.

  13. Sri
    February 9, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Horrible UI. Worst of all, there is no NO OPTION TO DELETE! I mean, what kind of nightmare is there where you cannot delete something!? Even the text forwarded to email had just the message coming in, and now it has a useless header and footer tagging in with every message that comes in.

  14. ellis
    February 7, 2017 at 5:37 am

    The new UI is horrible. How can it be called an update if it adds multiple new clicks to everything I need to do? It now takes MORE time and effort to do simple things? That's an update? No, that's a downgrade and it's typical for Google, who, although richer than God, can't seem to hire a UI designer to work with their engineers.

    The computer interface no longer shows me all text and phone messages in one place. Instead I have to click across three tabs, and then select each conversation individually to see each one, one at a time. = More time. More clicks. More work.

    And then to remove any of these messages, I have to select it and let it open, then click a drop down menu, and then select archive. = More time. More clicks. More work.

    Same thing with the android app.

    Google Voice always had a poor aesthetic and lacked key features, but it's computer interface and visual voicemail made it convenient and that's why I kept it. For the first time in 7 years I'm seriously considering ditching it or looking for an alternative.

    Any suggestions would be welcome.

    • Sri
      February 9, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      Archive does not mean remove by any means. We wish to delete some messages, and archive some. What was a long press and delete, is all bunch of click here click there BS now. Google, known for its simplistic UIs, is no longer simple to use.

  15. MAd bill
    February 6, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    New ui totally bites.. It turned the app into one of those "balloon Conversations apps" and you CAN'T DELETE them. Oh you can delete each and every sentence in a conversation ONE AT A TIME !!! Ridiculous! To delete an entire conversation you have to get on a PC with a browser or use a browser on your phone YOU CAN'T USE THE VOICE APP!!!!?? WTF?
    What goof thought this was a good idea at google?

  16. arianne
    February 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    I am not happy with the update. It may be that I still need to do more research in my own account to find older messages that I may still have as they often work as documentation in my line of work, but mainly, right now, I can't figure out how to change my VM greeting. Seriously? It should not be this hard at all, and yet I can't figure out where I am supposed to be doing that or disabling calls in settings while using it via my laptop, which is actually probably at least 50% of where I use it, not just on my phone via calls or the app.

    • Don
      May 12, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      I agree - cannot change my VM greeting. I worked for over 4 hours searching on how to do this. All searches reported how to change VM greeting with on the previous Voice program.
      I am now about to look for a replacement unless someone can show me how to change my VM geeting.

  17. Stacey
    February 6, 2017 at 10:28 am

    I am extremely upset about the update. Texts could work as they do on any phone. This is the only long distance carrier we have at our house since we have no cell service here. It did not look at you posted. I have texted many on this app. It worked beautifully. My husband who is an elctronics engineer spent 20 minutes figuring out how to use it. We then got into a huge argument when he tried to explain it to me, which he never did. I hope google sees this and realizes what's huge blunder they made. Again, it was easy to text before and it looked like he text on my phone. ?

  18. Jim Nealis
    February 5, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    I am a long-time Google Voice user. As a Sprint customer, I have been able to have all my outgoing cell calls and texts appear to be coming from my Google Voice phone number, without having to download a mobile app to do so. This was and still is only available to Sprint customers, I believe. I'm wondering if this will continue to be the case or will Google decide at some point do do away with the special relationship they have/had with Sprint.

  19. Samuri
    February 4, 2017 at 8:55 am

    we should be able to delete the texts after in stead of archive. i mean who needs bunch of old texts just sitting in the phone and annoying you

  20. Anne Guthrie
    February 4, 2017 at 1:17 am

    The new version doesn't have a quick dial list. I have to search every time I want to dial a number! I really need to have a favorites list or quick dial list or else this will be useless. Is there a way to get this feature back?

  21. Nisty
    February 3, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Am I the only one that doesn't see how to delete text messages in the new GV?
    Tried long pressing, swiping, looking in the options button (...), etc.
    How do you delete text messages?!

    • Thomas
      February 4, 2017 at 1:00 am

      I have figured there is no way to do it from the app. Nor can I figure out how to turn off notifications. This new update, although nice looking, sucks!

      • Sri
        February 9, 2017 at 2:14 pm

        Not just the app, option removed from the new "redesigned" web based UI too.

    • Robin
      February 4, 2017 at 4:46 am

      I'm looking at it on the web. Junk. I can't find a way, either, to delete a message. Before you could at least delete a whole page full at a time. Now I can't even delete one? It bugs me when they totally change an interface without providing any kind of online user guide, and all the support questions still hanging around refer to the old version. Why don't they just delete them ... speaking of deleting. Aaargh.

  22. Sandy
    February 3, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    The new version is terrible! I need the feature that allows me to copy and paste a number in order to research it and it mo longer allows that
    You need to check in three different places to see if ypu received a text, a message or a call. It used to be in one spot, easily identifiable. No option to continue using previous version either. Hate it. Boo.

  23. Jay Ferguson
    February 3, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    What happened to the Gvoice widget???

  24. Satish Naik
    February 3, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    I have been using GV since Grand Central/ Gizmo days, challenging configuring these packages on Nokia E-61. GV has evolved & come of age.

    However it is high time, now, that Google distinctly, define, utility of both Hangouts and GV, and pull out one, if required, as essentially, both do the same thing I.e provide integrated communication cwnter, albeit with subtle differences.

  25. TJ
    February 3, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Google voice does NOT support MMS of you are integrated with Sprint. There is no way to send MMS unless you use thr built in stock messenger app that comes with the phone. So I still have to use 2 apps to send MMS messages. C'mon Google, fix this already.

  26. Scott
    February 3, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    I get get messages at both my GV# and my regular cell number and they both go to Hangouts. But it seems the new GV app will only receive texts to my GV # so I'm stuck using Hangouts. No?

    • Michelle R Morris
      February 3, 2017 at 5:59 pm

      I still get my GV texts sent to my regular cell phone . Check out your settings. I never used hangout it was perset on my phone did the samethings as GV to me. My GV texts are also forwarded to my Gmail. Hope this helps.

  27. Bob LaRosa
    February 3, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Been using GV since the Grand Central days. Love the ability to screen calls. I use it as my "business" cell phone number. Using Hangouts for SMS, as I like how that is integrated into the Gmail web interface.

  28. AHavoc
    February 3, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    I have been a GV user for years, basically for the ability to block callers. Unfortunately, GV only let's you use one GV # - Since I don't like giving out my number, I use a burner number which I have to pay for for privacy. I wish GV would allow for two numbers, one for private calls and one for public calls. Now that would be an update worth getting.

    • Ray
      February 3, 2017 at 8:37 pm

      You are allowed a number for each Gmail account you have...

  29. Sid
    February 3, 2017 at 11:16 am

    I am a Google voice user since 2013, for international and domestic calls, I don't even know my real carrier number, I always give my Google voice number to contact me and I call them using Google voice from phone and computer and my home phone also Google voice using obihai exited about upcoming update. Assisted dialing is the main reason that I am stuck with Android vs iPhone

  30. Alma hix
    February 3, 2017 at 3:53 am

    I've been using google voice for years, and the recent update required don't yo hangouts as well, which I had never used before. I think I liked it better before the update.

  31. spaniel
    February 3, 2017 at 1:57 am

    I'm a power user (1,000+ contacts) and finding the new Google Voice browser app to be a little slower than the old one. The other problem is that you can no longer mark messages as Unread. I used to do that to figure out whom I needed to follow-up with even though I had texted them last. So that going away really, really hurts.

    However, if the trade-off was for MMS ability, then okay, I reluctantly accept. Sigh. Will GV ever be perfect?

    • richard novoa
      February 3, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      Furthermore... You cannot delete several texts or conversations from different people at the same time, also if want to delete only one thread of conversation you have to open the thread and one by one inside your conversation you can then delete. So if you have a very long conversation from one person you cannot delete the whole thing at once. I also have so many archived texts and it's a pain to delete. I had to go back to the old gv.

      • Tickko
        February 3, 2017 at 8:53 pm

        I think that deleting a thread (conversation) of messages is coming in a future update. For the meantime it's still possible to do through the legacy Google voice interface by clicking on the naivagtion icon on the left and selecting the Legacy Google Voice link.

        • Anthony
          February 5, 2017 at 5:29 pm

          I'm not seeing a legacy button? This is silly you can't delete an entire conversation at once.

        • tickko
          February 6, 2017 at 1:45 pm

          Sorry, I forgot to include that it can only be done through the web UI.

  32. likefunbutnot
    February 2, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Sprint customers in the USA can get a fully integrated Google Voice number, something no other carrier offers. My service in Google Voice is the same as my normal Sprint phone number.

    I use Google Voice combined with Gmail filters to prevent people from sending me SMS messages. I don't want or like them, so in the few cases where I've deemed someone important enough, I'll see their messages as proper email and I otherwise won't be bothered. This, along with the ability to transcribe voice mail to email, are my primary interest in Google Voice.

    The sooner SMS messaging dies, the happier I'll be. For now, the greatest value of the service is to keep me from having to deal with it in the first place.