Google Voice has lots of great tools, especially for older users, but many of its oldest (and apparently best) features will soon be gone.
Google Voice is a great service for managing a secondary phone number, but longtime users are losing some older features. Google launched Voice in 2009, providing customers with a variety of voice and SMS messaging tools. These included the ability to transfer a cell phone number to Voice, forward text messages to email, and an option to screen callers before answering. Since then, Google has made many changes to the service, as well as introducing video communication apps like Duo and Meet.
Google launched a fresh version of Voice in 2017 that introduced several changes, including a new layout for the web app, better conversation threads for messaging, and MMS support. While several features were not transferred, Google continued to maintain the old version. This meant that longtime Voice customers had access to the original inbox layout, as well as tools like Call Notes – a simple keyboard for noting notes during a chat, and voicemail accounts only. In 2020, however, Google began removing some features of the old service and encouraging users to the modern app. The company dropped Call Notes and closed the old inbox format. Of course, with the plethora of note-taking apps and a seemingly better messaging experience in modern Voice, such changes probably bothered few users.
From February 2022, more early Voice features will disappear as Google closes the old web version for consumers. The company has sent out emails informing affected users that tools like Ring Scheduling (predetermined periods when calls can be connected) and Do Not Disturb timer (ad hoc periods when calls cannot connect) will soon be gone. In addition, users of call notes must download their old notes from Google’s account withdrawal service before the end of March or risk losing them forever.
Users who only have voice messages need to add a phone number
Consumers who have historically only used Voice for their voicemail tools will need to upgrade to a regular account if they want to continue using the service. That means activating a real number (which is free) and linking it to a phone number that the user is already checking. For those who would rather not make such a change or do not want the hassle of finding a new free-to-use standalone voicemail app, they could of course instead use the voice memo features in services like WhatsApp or Signal – even if it will not be a complete one-on-one comparison.
It is important to note that the transition is happening for the consumer version of Google Voice. Those who have an older Voice account through Google Workspace are not affected by the changes. Still, for those who might consider paying a premium for a new one Google Workspace-linked Voice account, many original features are unfortunately no longer offered.
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