Earlier in the year we received word that Google Voice was getting the axe and its features were being rolled into Hangouts. Although it wasn’t openly discussed last week during Google’s I/O keynote, further exploration of the developer preview of Android’s L version has reinforced what we were told almost four months ago.
With its hit or miss dependability, Google Voice’s transcription feature for voicemail can manage to make an important message read like the ramblings of a friend drunk dialing you from happy hour. Aware of this, Google is launching a new initiative to improve its service, but the search giant needs your help. Now when you log into Google Voice via the web, you’ll be asked if you wish to anonymously share your voicemail messages to help make transcription better.
We’ve heard that Google Voice is getting dragged to the trash can and most of its functionality will be incorporated into the G+ Hangouts apps on both Android and iOS. This has already happened to an extent with the ability to phone friends on Hangouts, but we’re hearing the full shuttering and depreciation of the app is the next step.
What’s interesting here is that VoIP-to-phones is expected to be integrated into the Hangouts iOS and Android apps so that, just like with the Web version, you could be able to actually make (and receive) VoIP calls directly from your Google phone number. Whether the carriers and Apple are okay with this isn’t certain, and the thought is that it could be enabled by carrier like Apple’s FaceTime (or could be scrapped altogether) depending on the global market and the carrier. Read more
When Google rolled out its new unified Hangouts messaging service, some users were disappointed that the new experience within Gmail removed the ability to place free calls within the US and Canada. Google previously confirmed that the feature would be returning and today it announced on its Gmail blog that it is rolling out the free calling feature to Gmail Hangouts and also adding some new features.
In addition to improvements to desktop calling, such as the ability to “add multiple phone numbers and video participants to the same call” and play sound effects, it is also making calls to the US and Canada free from any country with access to Hangouts. Read more
Some of you might have noticed that updating to Google’s new unified Hangouts chat service in Gmail meant giving up the Google Voice calling capabilities that were previously available to users in the US and Canada. We suspected Google had plans to bring the feature back and users currently have the option of reverting back to the old Gmail chat in order to access the feature. Now Google has responded to concerns by promising that “Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making/receiving phone calls” will return in a future update.
Google’s Nikhyl Singhal had this to say about Voice integration in Hangouts: Read more
Regarding the Google-Dish tie up that was reported last night, we just got word that this is really happening. While the details haven’t been finalized, Google is already deep into development on plans to roll out the service and have it live by mid-late 2013.
Google plans to make the service data-only with voice and SMS only being used as VoIP services, likely with Google Voice. Google of course already has its ISP feet on the ground with its Fiber rollout on the Stanford Campus and its just-opened Kansas City network.
Google is launching its Glass head gear next year and would benefit from total control of the network. Without full control, Google is seeing its Voice and Wallet services being blocked by carriers, specifically AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.
Dish has previously said on numerous occasions that it would like to build a wireless network with the wireless spectrum it has acquired since 2008, but the company wants a partner to help fulfill this endeavor. As the Wall Street Journal noted in its report from yesterday, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said potential partners include companies that would like to be in the industry and currently don’t have a wireless sector.