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article imageGoogle Voice preparing for its first major update in years

By James Walker     Jan 11, 2017 in Technology
Google has confirmed it is working on some significant updates to Google Voice, the company's neglected communications service. Voice hasn't received much attention in the past couple of years but Google is now hinting at a major relaunch coming soon.
Nothing has been unveiled yet but multiple Google Voice users are seeing upgrade announcements being displayed in the app's online interface. Banners stating "The new Google Voice is here" with a "Try Now" link are appearing at the top of the page. Clicking the link simply refreshes the current view.
Google Voice hasn't been updated in over a year. Its last release on the iPhone was in June 2016, although that was only a simple bug fixing update. Before that, feature updates were delivered in October 2015. The only change on iOS was support for the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus display resolutions. Voice's Android client is limited and significantly outdated. The app has effectively been in extended support mode, barely touched by Google.
Despite the lack of attention, Voice remains popular with users. Its standout feature, the ability for users to share phone numbers and ring them from anywhere, remains fairly unique. Newer apps from startup firms are starting to offer this capability though, further emphasising Voice's dwindling value.
Google may be seeking to change this with an overhaul of the service. By modernising it, introducing a new interface and expanding on its features, it could reaffirm its presence in the voice calling space. After the upgrade banners began displaying to users, the company confirmed it is working on an update to be unveiled "as soon as we can."
"Sorry, it looks like we must have dialed the wrong number! But don’t worry, this wasn't a prank call," a Google spokesperson said to The Verge. "We're working on some updates to Google Voice right now. We have you on speed dial and we'll be sure to share what we've been up to just as soon as we can."
Google Voice is now just one of many communication apps owned by Google. The company has been backing away from its classic apps, pushing customers towards its newer, far less popular chat clients.
Google has been heavily promoting its new Allo and Duo apps, services that have been criticised by fans of the outgoing Hangouts and Voice for being too light on features and lacking in cross-platform support. The new Voice will be part of a fragmented array of Google messaging services, making it doubly important it appeals to existing fans.
Google's strategy may be confusing but it looks as though Voice will play a role going forward. With the company refusing to give any more details ahead of the launch, users will need to keep hoping that patience has finally paid off.
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