It’s finally starting. Google Voice users have been languishing for what feels like years waiting for Google to better integrate Google Voice into Hangouts, and now the Mother of All Update Wednesdays is here.
The Hangouts app was fairly revamped with its 2.3 release. With a much greener look, we get three tabs (assuming the new Dialer is installed, two if not). One tab is for contacts and the other is for messages. Previously it was kind of flipped with a more clunky contacts tab.
In Settings the option to turn on Google Voice integration is now showing and users have the option to check or uncheck that feature. Turning Voice integration on at this point allows the Hangouts app to ring your phone when someone calls your Google Voice number. You might want to keep in mind that these use mobile data when you’re not on WiFi. That can be a factor for those on limited data plans but unlimited phone plans. Does the calling feature work over WiFi? It did for me.
So why create another application for Hangouts? The belief is the dialer allows Google to skirt around carrier restrictions. While it’s partially annoying to essentially have two Hangouts apps, this does give people who do not want to use the dialer the option of not having it part of Hangouts.
Do you think you’re going to be able going to send an SMS from Hangouts using your Google Voice number? Not yet. Do you think you can finally use MMS with your Google Voice number in Hangouts? It’s complicated but the answer is sort of yes, in Hangouts. Do you think you can use this anywhere outside of the United States and Canada? No, you cannot. Can you add a contact from a phone number in the Hangouts dialer? You cannot. I imagine these features are bound to be turned on in time though.
This is apparently a huge undertaking and at least we know that Google is not fully abandoning Google Voice yet. They want those users to be able to seamlessly move over to Hangouts and have some extra features, but we can take some comfort that in the passage of time some good will come out of these gradual updates. Let’s just hope it’s not too piecemeal and ready to go in time for the next big release of Android.
Have you tried the new integration in Hangouts yet? Have you checked out the dialer app and called anyone? Have you even made the move to have SMS featured in the Hangouts app and not the default phone application? Let us know if you have taken the plunge.
H/T: Google Blog