The New Google Voice: Love or Hate?
Google Voice recently got its first major update in five years, and it’s a mixed bag. The user interface is different, which always upsets some users. Will you love it or hate it? Let's take a look at what's new and different...
What's New in Google Voice?
The new user interface now looks like a mobile app: brightly colored icons and not much in the way of text labels. A little poking around quickly reveals how to navigate records of calls, text messages, and voicemails. “Send message…” appears prominently in the top left corner, and in several other places. Apparently, Google wants to encourage text messaging, which probably costs it next to nothing compared to voice calls.
On the plus side, everyone can now send photos via SMS message, even Sprint customers. That feature was missing in the previous (legacy) Google Voice. Google also notes that in the new version, “conversations stay in one continuous thread.” To some degree that was possible in the legacy version, but conversation threads are much cleaner and clearer now.
One big downside of the new Voice is that placing a voice call from the desktop is much more cumbersome, and in some cases, impossible. To call someone you've already talked to, first open the Google Voice tab for Calls or Voicemail. Click on a previous call or voicemail with the other person. At the BOTTOM right, click the link to call that person, then choose a linked number to use for the call.
If you have previously shared a text message with someone, placing a voice call to that person works just a bit differently. Open the Google Voice tab for Texts, and click on a previous conversation with the other person. At the TOP right, click the phone icon to call that person, then choose a linked number to use for the call.
So how do you call someone you haven't called or texted before? You can't! Google's help file says: "To call someone you haven’t called before, use your phone instead." Wow. The previous (legacy) version of Google Voice had a big red button labelled CALL. You could simply enter any number, and off you go. I can't figure why the smart people at Google would remove the ability to easily make a VOICE call in an application called Google VOICE.
Where Did it Go?
The “Search” function at the top of the new Voice interface searches the text of voicemails that have been converted to text, as well as text messages. However, it searches only one type of message at a time, not voicemails and text messages in one search. Call records can be searched by caller’s name only; you can’t find call records by searching for a phone number. In the old version of Voice, the History link pulled all your texts, calls and voice messages together on one screen.
The options for Archive, Mark as Spam, Block Number and Delete are still there, but you have to select a message, then click the three little dots on the right, just under your profile icon to find them. Google Voice settings are buried under the three dots that appear on the LEFT side of the screen. In my opinion, all of these things were easier to find in the old version.
But hey, that reminds me of my favorite feature of the new Google Voice. Click those three dots on the left, scroll down, and under Settings, you'll see the option for "Legacy Google Voice." Click that, and a new window will open with the familiar legacy version of Voice. That big red CALL button (the one that lets you call ANY number) will be there. You'll also regain another feature that's gone from the new version. The History link shows everything (texts, calls, and voicemails) on one screen.
Overall, this update appear pretty slap-dash, with most of the emphasis on mobile functions such as picture and text messaging. The UI tweaks align the desktop version with the mobile version of Google Voice, making programmers’ lives easier. And it's good to finally be able to send pictures in a text message.
Google now has three messaging apps: Google Voice, Hangouts, and Allo. Each has its pros and cons, and limitations. The instant-messaging app Allo, for instance, can’t send text messages or place voice calls; it’s not even available for desktop computers. Users are split up among the three apps, and switching from one to the other has a learning curve.
This fragmentation may be typical Google experimentation; throw some half-baked “beta” apps out there and see which one(s) people use most. But it’s very confusing and frustrating for many users. If Google wants to get serious about competing against Apple’s iMessage, it should integrate all calling and messaging functions into a single app.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 9 Mar 2017
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- The New Google Voice: Love or Hate? (Posted: 9 Mar 2017)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved