Google Voice is adding a VoIP option on Android and the web; iOS support is reportedly coming soon. You can join the beta and test this new feature right now.
Google Voice is a little confusing, which is probably why it’s never been a huge hit. Basically you get a phone number which, when called or texted, will forward to however many phones you specify—cell phones, landlines, whatever. The idea was you only ever needed to give people one number, but the downside was that you needed an old-school phone plan to use it.
This beta would change that, allowing users to make phone calls over Wi-Fi or even mobile data plans. Having said that, there are downsides, as Jon Fingas points out on Engadget:
The beta feature can’t use incoming call recording or transfer options when you switch on data. Key Bluetooth audio functions are missing (including button control to answer or hang up), and Obihai voice-over-IP devices won’t work. This is a test in the truest sense, with known major bugs and an expectation that you’ll provide feedback.
If nothing else, though, this means Google is aware it’s still running a service called “Google Voice,” and maybe even intends to keep it going. I’ve been using Voice for years, and have occasionally wondered if it’s going to shut down soon, so to me that’s great news.
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