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Google Voice is killing SMS voicemail transcripts and Chrome Extension texting (androidpolice.com)
93 points by gregmac 77 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 62 comments

I have always been worried about Google Voice completely shutting down. I use it a lot. Is there an alternative to it? At this point, I am willing to pay a couple of dollars a month for the service.

Things that I like:

1. Secondary phone number

2. SMS to email

3. Transcripts to email

4. Relatively cheap international calls

Although they haven't shut down the above four features, I am concerned about the future of this product.

Google Voice is an officially-supported GSuite feature now, so it's unlikely to shut down (although so is Google+, and that … had to change, sorta).

But it's weird how they have this overlap between Google Fi and Google Voice. And it's impossible to forward a Fi/Voice number to/from another Voice/Fi number.

You can pay for it now, and I do: https://cloud.google.com/voice/

It's great if you need multiple numbers.

Wow, I didn't know it was available for GSuite! Anyone know if you can migrate previously-free GV numbers over to it?

So expensive for what used to be free. I wish they included at least one account with my existing gsuite subscription.

And Gsuite Google Voice now supports international dial-in numbers for several countries.

Oh nice, this is great! Thanks


Google voice, Skype, Zoom and others use their network.

I'm curious - if I get a number from bandwidth, is it an actual mobile number that can receive SMS from shortcodes ?

That is one downside of twilio - they cannot provide a true mobile number and so therefore you cannot get 2FA and other texts that come from shortcode numbers ...

Nope. Tried it. It failed SMS verification.

Do they have consumer app versions?

Google Voice spent many years being neglected, but it is now getting heavy investment as part of Gsuite. This change to kill extension and SMS transcripts is actually part of moving to the next generation platform which has improved call quality and reliability. The features are quite niche and were likely deemed not worth keeping in the new version of the product.

There is no serious competitor to Google Voice, so please add it to your Gsuite contracts so that Google keeps it around.

> There is no serious competitor to Google Voice

Other than all the other voip options that are actually available outside of the USA.

The paid version of Google voice in Gsuite is now available in several countries.

No Canada though. Regardless of it being available in a handful of countries, "no serious competitor" is silly, non-Americans have had various options for comparable products for years.

Google shutting down Voice has long worried me as well. The main reason I use it is simply to text from a normal keyboard so I can chat with my spouses throughout the day without interrupting my work flow much.


https://jmp.chat/ is what I am considering for a replacement. The service is AGPL and is run by someone that cares about Free Software: https://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/meet-the-libreplanet-201...

I've been using voip.ms for the past year or so, and it's been great for numbers one and two. Can't speak for number 4 though, as I don't have to travel outside the country too often.

I've been using voip.ms too. It's $0.85/month for the number plus usage costs ($0.009/minute for calls, free SMS but eventually will be $0.01/text).

I have been using grooveip ( https://snrblabs.com/Grooveip/FAQ ) for 2 out of 4 of those things and been mostly happy with it. I have not been using all the functions that snrb makes available. Just peeked at the commercial api thing and such.

Think I had an android app at one time that would auto forward sms to email, but that's been a while / a few phones ago.

Voice is a core offering for Enterprise... and all of Google relies on it. It’s not going anywhere.

So was hangouts.

Hangouts is still around, and still available for consumer. It’s being replaced with Chat, which will have feature parity and consumer support. Most people won’t even notice, as it will continue to appear in Gmail with an identical UI.

Google’s communication skills are deeply lacking, and leaks made it worse. But no, Chat is still around for consumers.

Why would a marketing and analytics company shut down a service that gives them full text transcripts of all of your phone calls?

They may as well stop parsing your email for information about the purchases you make.

Anveo.com can do all this, and it's cheap. But lots more fiddling, configuration, etc, to do so. Not for non-techies.

I use AWS chime and it's pretty good

I don't know if this is just me, but I swear in the nearly 10 years I have used google voice the voicemail transcription has gotten steadily worse. I remember when I joined I was blown away by how good it was and now I don't even bother reading them anymore. They're worse than useless.

Or maybe all of my acquaintances have started mumbling more.

The Android swipe-style typing accuracy has also gone steadily down over time to the point where it regularly chooses letter combinations that aren't real words. I suspect that it's because they allow their training corpuses to be polluted by trash from random users because it's "smarter that way".

I miss the Windows Phone keyboard on a daily basis, I find it baffling that Google's keyboard is still so much worse.

Not just you, it was really good 10 years ago, Today, it's pure garbage, I never depend on it anymore. I listen to the voicemail 100% of the time now. A part of me thinks it's probably perfect now and they just feed us garbage data not to freak us out.

I don't use the text transcripts all that much but I haven't noticed any degradation.

But let's posit that it has degraded. What could have happened? Let's assume that use of Google Voice has increased (non-obvious) but that Google assigned resources have not. Perhaps processing power spent on the voice to text analysis has been reduced? That's my best theory on how a degradation in this service may have occurred.

the Google search has gotten terrible lately

Have to agree... I sometimes get messages transcribed with phone numbers VERY different from the spoken phone number that gets injected. Kind of embarrassing at times when I just click to followup with someone.

Aside: been really scared of losing GV, been a user since it was Grand Central before Google's buyout. May have to bookmark this post to look at some of the mentioned alternatives. I wouldn't mind paying like $5/month or so if I can find a decent option, but definitely need short code support.

I've been using it for 10 years as well. I haven't noticed it getting better or worse during this span. It's never been perfect, but it's always been good enough.

FWIW, I've been using Twilio as a Google Voice replacement. I've yet to create a web interface, but currently texts to my public number get forwarded to my real number. I can text my public number with a password and a desired phone number to forward a text in the opposite direction. Phone calls to my public number get sent to a voicemail, and transcripts + audio files get texted to me. If I wish to initiate a call, I text my password and "call <phone number>" to get a call initiated.

It's been a fun, low-bandwidth interface, and it avoids me using a Google service.

I'd like to build a web interface, and use 2FA in addition to a password to access my extra functionality.

"FWIW, I've been using Twilio as a Google Voice replacement. "

I did the same thing about 1.5 years ago. Haven't looked back.

I do almost all of my texting to friends and family from the UNIX command line using the 'sms' script I wrote. I can text from my phone number even if I don't have my phone. Even if it's off.

Please, please join me in pressuring twilio to add a 'email' verb to twiml ... there are so many simple use-cases that would be so trivial and easy if you could just call 'email' from inside a twiml bin.

Twilio doesn’t support inbound SMS from short codes, which limits 2FA usage.

Same. I transferred a few of the phone numbers I "collected" while traveling to Twilio, and have them all forward calls & SMS to my current "real" number.

I'd love to have a mobile app such as Burner's [0] to do messaging and outbound calls. Right now, when I do outbound SMS or calls, my real/current number appears, which adds a bit to the confusion on the other side. To make international calls, I use the mobile Google Hangouts app.

Burner is great, albeit more expensive than "raw" Twilio, of course. An official Twilio consumer app would be fantastic (but they're probably not interested to support this..?), otherwise an app that I can authorize to manage by Twilio account via OAuth would be great as well...

[0] https://www.burnerapp.com/

I can't tell you how many times I've considered a making SMS to Telegram gateway for myself using Twilio. My mom still SMSs me!

Is this something you can setup entirely in the Twilio console or are you using some custom code to handle it?

I'm using Twilio Studio atm, which let's you do everything in a drag-n-drop flowchart in the dashboard.

What are your approx. monthly costs? Is it possible to port the GV phone number to Twilio?

Twilio supports porting, but I don't know if GV numbers are special.

My monthly costs range between $1 to $5, but that's because (1) I very rarely call people, and (2) I transition quickly to email/Wire or some other messaging app if I want continued communication.

I am really regretting my decision many years ago to go all-in on GV and make it my primary phone number.

Counterpoint: I've been all-in on Google Voice since 2014 and for me it's been incredible at an incredible price (free). I use it hours per day for business and personal. Favorite features:

-Seamless international calling and receiving calls while abroad.

-Make/receive calls on multiple devices. I have 2 phones logged in(a flagship and a burner) and use my laptop for most work calls. Press * to transfer yourself from one device to another.

-SMS from my laptop. Love the option to use a real keyboard for longer conversations.

-Voicemail transcripts, which while never perfect, have been good enough to stop actually listening to my voicemails.

-Being able to use VOIP, but also fall back on POTS when I'm having connectivity issues.

-No more carrier tie-in. I usually have an active sim card, but if I have a few days gap here and there it's no big deal, I just use wifi.

Same. For me, from a bit before that - probably about the time of the Grand Central acquisition.

That said - I have had a couple (depending on how you count, up to 4) pretty fundamentally dislocating and transformational life, lifestyle, location and financial dislocations and GV has saved my pathetic life.

Why? The number is portable if you wish to take it elsewhere. https://support.google.com/voice/answer/1065667?hl=en

I think Google killing off SMS features is a direct results of Verizon adding an additional $0.0025 fee per SMS, which other carriers are sure to follow. The costs could quickly add up.

I suspect that it's because the feature was designed before most people had smartphones and it's easier on everyone to just provide the notifications in the Voice app.

Especially with the great Android integration (Voice is used for calls from the system dialer, etc.) getting a transcript text is redundant because you're getting text via Voice anyway. I bet the transcript texts are just rarely used anymore.

Oh is that what they're removing - the duplicates of Voice texts that come through my normal carrier? Wonderful. Those are so pointless.

I was just ranting about the dialer UI they added to the web UI, but after a few days they updated it so that it auto-hide if your viewport is narrow enough.

I still use them because it's a lot faster to open and read the message than it is to call into voice mail, navigate their prompts and actually listen to the message.

Do you not use the app?

My phone isn't supported, so no, I don't use their app.

I doubt it. I think it is a result of moving away from hangouts and to the new voip backend. Likely just cleaning house on some features that were rarely used. The voicemail transcripts are still forwarded to email and available in the app and web interface. SMS isn't changing otherwise.

huh? where is this news? texts have been free for like ~15 years (where as they used to be pay per text)

The fee is being added on the wholesale/commercial side (bulk senders), not the consumer side. See https://support.twilio.com/hc/en-us/articles/360008372654-Co... or you can google "Verizon $0.0025" to find announcements from several other service providers.

I certainly hope those bulk commercial SMS fees add up. SMS spam is bad enough as it is.

Google Voice was really useful when it came out but I slowly stopped using it after most sites/apps started rejecting account sign-ups with Google Voice phone numbers.

The legacy web interface was so functional! The new interface is actual trash.

+1 the new interface is missing a couple key settings and I don’t like it as much either.

Are these still going to work in Hangouts? That's where I currently use these features, and the SMS (despite them changing the UI to make it harder) is still a really big deal for my on the desktop.

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