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article imageGoogle Voice gets its first major update in five years

By James Walker     Jan 23, 2017 in Technology
Google has announced a total revamp of its popular but neglected Google Voice communications service. After largely abandoning its apps for years, the company has released an all-new interface and several new features.
Google Voice was last significantly updated on mobile devices around five years ago. Prior to today's overhaul, the app offered limited functionality and provided only basic features. The web app used Google's old interface styles and appeared very outdated.
The new Voice apps have a clean and minimal layout that's based on Google's Material Design. They look like the rest of Google's mobile apps and have a modern feel. It's a similar story on the web. The previously cluttered interface has been tidied up and replaced with a spacious new layout.
The inbox view has been separated into individual tabs for calls, text messages and voicemails. Conversations are now forced into continuous threads, helping you to collect messages from multiple contacts in one place. There's also support for group chats, voicemail transcription and multimedia sharing.
Google has added support for group MMS and sharing photos in multimedia messages. It has also implemented in-notification replies, letting you type a new message to a contact without having to open the app. On the backend, architectural improvements have led to greater call quality and reliability, ensuring a better overall experience.
Google Voice update 23-01-2017
Google Voice update 23-01-2017
Despite having been neglected for multiple years, Voice remains popular with users. Although start-ups have begun to encroach on its premise, no alternative yet offers all its features. Google promises "one number for life," letting you access calls, text messages and voicemail across all your devices using a single phone number.
"When we first introduced Google Voice our goal was to create 'one number for life'—a phone number that’s tied to you, rather than a single device or a location," said Google. Since then, millions of people have signed up to use Google Voice to call, text and get voicemail on all their devices."
Google noted the new Voice isn't a replacement for its existing Hangouts voice communication. The company is currently trying to move consumers away from Hangouts as it emphasises its newer messaging apps, Allo and Duo. Voice remains a standalone product though, offering unique value to people who frequently use multiple devices for calling and texts.
With Hangouts moving towards being an enterprise-only app, Google may have been forced into relaunching Voice. Allo and Duo don't support mobile network integration, leaving Voice the only consumer-oriented app that can handle cellular voice calls and texts. The update also appeases Voice fans who have been waiting years for the service to be modernised.
The new Google Voice will begin to roll out worldwide today. Google said it will be available to everyone "in the coming weeks." Android users will get the update first with the iOS release coming afterwards. The updated web app will automatically be available once you've received the new mobile app.
More about Google, Google voice, Apps, Messaging, Communications
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