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Google Voice has stopped forwarding SMS (support.google.com)
128 points by yellow_lead on Aug 19, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 70 comments

This was about to become super inconvenient as I use my GV number for all online services, but just checked and was still able to receive 2FA notifications on GV App and Email so crisis is adverted for now.

Still a reminder that any Google services & features I rely on could be axed at any minute. It's been a couple of years that I've sworn off trying out any new Google Services. I used to look forward to their product releases, now I view them as a ticking liability where any time investments could be lost at their whims forcing you to scramble and find alternatives.

some banks blacklist voip #s (and hence google voice #s it seems) so 2FA notifications fail to go them. I wonder if people who have google fi have the same issue.

There are lists of numbers owned by voip providers. If you have an early gv number it is usually not on those lists, and so it works fine. Whether that's a good thing is another question.

my google voice # is actually my former sprint #. still gets blocked by some banks, though almost all of them that do block, have options for e-mail or voice call, so doesn't impact me much.

> I wonder if people who have google fi have the same issue.

Fi numbers are actually hosted by T-Mobile and show up as mobile, not voip by all carrier lookup services I have seen.

I use skype-in (skype with a landline number) that can do SMS. The only site I have found that was able to send SMS to it was LinkedIn. All the banks block it. All eCommerce sites block it that I have tried.

It's less about a specific blacklist than Skype-in not implementing short-code SMS support.

Anecdotally, I have no issue with 2FA texts coming through on my Google Fi line.

Funny, this made me think back about the time when I was feeling like this about Microsoft's constant framework and tooling churn. Are all companies that get large enough destined to eat their own?

Ha! I work in the restaurant industry and I feel the same way, but about the pop up online ordering platforms and POS providers.

I had an argument (via email) with a POS provider whose time and attendance system were used by my client. I said I need SOH report (in NY you get special pay if you work more than 10 hrs in one day).

They said they don’t have this report, but we could switch over to their payroll service, where they do offer this report.

Adolescent companies just won’t step out of their lane, even when they collect data which is necessary for compliance with the law.

Hmmm. What’s going on? Young and impervious to reason. Old and careless.

Wow, I was wondering why my 2FA wasn't arriving, and I had to use phone call to get my code. Thanks for sharing, Google didn't even bother telling me.

They could have at least texted you about it!

Glad to help. Hoping to save others my frustration.

Curious why you don't have the Google Voice app installed? I also get an email with the text message content too

edit: I got a 2FA code earlier today from Amazon so it's definitely working through the app on my phone and desktop (in case there was any confusion about that)

So receiving texts still works with the app? Makes the cited "spam problem" reason for killing forwarding pretty weak.

Not sure why you think that. There is a big difference between their service getting incoming spam texts and their service getting incoming spam texts and then forwarding it out through the phone networks.

To a verified phone number of the same end user. Keep in mind they are still forwarding calls too.

I think this is a case of "The details are what matters and we don't have the details"

1. This only applies to forwarding. You still get all messages in the Google Voice apps.

2. My totally uniformed speculation is this has more to do with Google's own numbers being flagged as spam by telecom carriers, rather than Google Voice not being able to detect spam itself.

Can you confirm that this is indeed the case? I literally just ported my phone number back to google voice and gave my google fi a new number, because I found it annoying that hangouts stopped allowing me to call with googles recent changes.

What a timing on my decision. Should I move my 2FA number to something else?

I'm not sure about others who still use this service, but I learned about this the hard way when I missed some important messages. I thought others should know, since it seems Google hasn't issued any communication on this to customers.

EDIT: Seems they did send an email about 2 weeks before the change.

I received an email about this from Google well over a month prior to the change. I have issues with this change (see my own comment), but they did send notices.

Whether or not they successfully got those emails to somewhere you saw them or not, and whether a month is enough notice for upending your SMS strategy are both good questions though, I suppose.

It looks like I did receive an email. I retract my original comment.

I'm starting to think that Google is too scared to kill Voice outright because of the backlash, so they are just killing it slowly hoping people leave without too much fuss.

The spam note :

“Important: In light of spam causing potential issues with SMS forwarding, text message forwarding to linked numbers will stop on or after August 1."

Only appears in the English version of the notes. I have not tested if it still works on non US Google accounts. Is there still something like US vs non US Google accounts?

I'm confused, Google Voice started in... 2009? How did they manage spam this whole time and suddenly decide they can't handle it anymore in 2021?

A guess, but SMS spam has gotten to crazy levels, and probably carriers are blocking/flagging more now...

Use soprani.ca. It's open source and they run a public pay for instance on jmp.chat. It's the best VOIP service I've ever used.

Whats a good GV alternative? I dont mind paying for a service as well

Twilio. I send all idiot 2FA websites to a Twilio number and forward to Slack. You can also forward to e-mail or pretty much do whatever you want.

Twilio's also great because I can set it up to answer known 2FA voice calls and hit the # button automatically to confirm.

I also use it to play endless loops of hold music for unscheduled calls to teach businesses to stop calling me without making an appointment and e-mail me instead.

> I also use it to play endless loops of hold music for unscheduled calls to teach businesses to stop calling me without making an appointment and e-mail me instead.

I feel ya. I have a public line that does the same thing, but instead if you call or text it just lets you know that I'll contact them, not the other way around.

Question: why do you not terminate the call? Do you not get charged for the usage if you make them hold?

> Question: why do you not terminate the call? Do you not get charged for the usage if you make them hold?

It's only something like $0.0085/min. On their end though if someone stays on hold for 15 minutes it wastes the company's 15 minutes worth of that person's salary time and they learn to not do it again.

Ah gotcha, thanks for the tip.

Lenny, a bunch of sound files for asterisk, is great for this.

Nothing beats a confused, talkative old man, when it comes to wasting a caller's time.

I'm sure you could adapt the files / logic.

(If you love hearing telemarketers experience stress and annoyance, search for lenny examples youtube...)

I've been pretty happy with voip.ms. They have a bidirectional SMS/MMS to email system that works well enough for my purposes.

I'll second voip.ms. I use it as my primary "land line" in my home. I wish they had VM transcription too. My biggest gripe is that some online account verification systems refuse to use VOIP numbers as 'valid' phone numbers.

> I wish they had VM transcription too

Yet another Voip.ms customer here - I can only guess that's voicemail transcription, a feature I've been using (and evangelizing) for months now. Every message is transcribed and emailed to me, with a confidence level of accuracy, and even the original audio so I can verify or listen myself.

Considering how many features they've rolled out, I can only imagine how easy it could be to miss though.

https://jmp.chat is basically open-source google-voice afaict

Another mentioned on HN recently is https://www.unlistedmobile.com/

Years ago, I used Google Voice to receive text messages. Then Twilio came along and I switched to them. Much better.

I am vaguely aware of twilio's api offerings, but they don't have a consumer product do they?

What in particular are you doing, and how much does that cost?

Ya I’m curious too. How would you switch to Twilio without doing the coding yourself?

Twilio studio let’s you config a call flow visually for this.

Alternatively you can use TokTiv a free (limited number of users) PBX from an Indian company that relies on Twilio numbers: https://www.toktiv.com/

I’ve been using it for a year. It’s been buggy at times but improving.

Have you had any issues w/ not being able to use your Twillio number for 2FA?

We tried to use Twilio for 2FA and it was unreliable.

I can’t find the page now, but I’m pretty sure at one point they had a page saying you shouldn’t use it to receive 2FA codes. It’s very common for 2FA systems to blacklist numbers that are known to be used by providers like Twilio.

As far as I am aware, the only reliable way to receive 2FA over SMS is to have a real phone plan.

(Obviously SMS is a poor choice for 2FA in the first place, but sometimes there’s no other option.)

Some organizations won't let it be used, as it shows up in the databases as a voip number (even if it was a ported cell phone number). It's hit or miss

I have issues with Uber 2FA not sending a SMS to my Twillio number. Nothing arrives. 2FA via call works, just not SMS.

Many expatriates with US bank accounts use Voice for 2FA.

Not anymore.

It is precisely because Google Voice is a Google property that I, as an expat, have taken great effort to keep my US phone number with my US carrier.

Trusting Google with such an absolutely critical aspect of one's life is lunacy.

What did you choose? I used Google Fi for a while but it's becoming gradually worse, so I've kept it mainly for the off chance that I need to go somewhere I can't easily buy a sim card.

I travel to Europe a lot - being originally from Italy - and they will have to grab my original 30$ per month contract from my cold dead hands. I get - slow - unlimited data when travelling and free SMSs, saved my bacon more than once.

I think they have something similar for 45$.

This question was specifically targeted at the parent. People need a long term number when they're overseas because otherwise their home services 2FA doesn't work. People use GVoice or Google Fi because they need a US number. Ideally you don't want to switch sim cards for that purpose. So I'm more interested in the US.

I'm with ATT and have been since about 2006. For all their faults, they've never let me down with foreign cell service.

Actually that is one of the use cases I use it for and nothing has changed. I get it through the app and over email. Not sure why an expat would have SMS forwarding anyways because I'm not sure they ever allowed forwarding to a non-US number in the first place (not sure about this though)

I have no issues getting text for 2FA. But I use the Google Voice app and don't forward my texts to a different number

Nope, I still get my code via email. They only stopped forwarding to linked numbers.

So the really frustrating issue here is that there's no functional replacement if Gmail is not your email provider: Google Voice completely ignores my email settings all over my Google account that send everything from Play receipts and Account notices to my actual email, and solely offers to send texts to my Gmail address which I haven't used since 2016.

I get freaking Stadia ads in my real inbox just because I opened that website while logged into my Google account once, but Voice has no way to recognize the email address that every single other Google service is capable of sending email to.

Voice is no longer my primary phone number for obvious reasons if you know me at all, but basically it no longer has SMS support for me, so my last major use of a Google service will end if they do not fix it.

Is this only for people using the "linked numbers" feature?

Edit: I guess that's actually the normal way of using GV! For weird personal reasons I'm using GV without a linked number, and I still receive SMSes at GV.

>Edit: I guess that's actually the normal way of using GV! For weird personal reasons I'm using GV without a linked number, and I still receive SMSes at GV.

That's not weird at all. I've always used Google Voice on its own, without forwarding calls/messages to a "real" number. By abstracting my phone onto a web app, I had the benefits of Handoff years before Apple introduced it.

They can still be forwarded to your email, but they quietly disabled the forwarding to linked numbers, yes.

fwiw, this was announced back in March


"Important: In light of spam causing potential issues with SMS forwarding, text message forwarding to linked numbers will stop on or after August 1."

That's interesting. I thought Google felt like they were quite good at squashing spam.

Google puts gmail spam in your spam folder, and they're terrible at mistaking legit stuff for spam.

While their overzealousness is annoying, at least you still have the message in the spam folder.

There is no SMS spam folder, so they'd have to drop messages they think of as spam.

Over the last year or so, I started get obvious spam (weird spellings with numbers or other characters and such) in my Gmail inbox on average once a day.

Meanwhile, I have accounts for years for only person to person communication and services, and I still get sent to spam — Gmail to Gmail!

What the hell happened, Gmail spam team?!

wow wtf thanks for this notice


Guessing that's not far behind. I would guess a lot of the userbase is using it at least partially for the text forwarding to their devices that have a different number.

They made it available as an add on for Google workspace so I suspect it'll be around for a few years yet.

Sometimes you get lucky with the D20.

They gain more than they lose by listening into our conversations to serve ads

I don’t think Google Voice data is used for ads, though I could be wrong.


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