Alphabet's Google has just announced a newly refreshed and improved Google Voice, following a bout of teasing weeks ago. The company is now pushing out updated versions of Voice for Android, iOS, and the web.
The app, essentially a centralized text, call, and voicemail service, has been treated with a facelift for the first time in five years, and its new visual package now lines it up nicely with Google's other Material Design-y apps.
Google Voice Update
Per Google's blog post, the Voice's inbox will now include separate tabs for text messages, calls, and voicemails. Individual conversations will also be streamlined in a continuous thread, so users can easily see all messages from each of their contacts in one place.
Apart from cosmetic touch-ups, the updated app brings some features that were only available for users who had shifted to Google's messaging app, Hangouts, for Voice features such as texting and voicemail. For instance, Voice now supports photo MMS across platforms and on virtually all major carriers. Photo MMS show up as inline content inside conversations, and sending one is pretty much the same affair as on any other messaging software.
Group texting has now also been added as a feature sans Hangouts, which had previously been a sore requirement until now. With the update, group conversations are now labeled clearly and should work, again, as any other text messaging app would.
Voicemail transcriptions remain, and with the update, Google is introducing Spanish transcriptions, which is a nice little bonus feature for those who speak or understand the language. Hopefully, Google introduces other languages down the line, since it's clearly excellent in this translation racket.
For Android, Voice supports in-notification replies, which is sadly not present on iOS, but as a silver lining, the latter platform flaunts 3D Touch support, but that's mostly found in the messages view. But the most important thing is the Voice now looks and performs similar to its contemporaries, and it's a welcome effort from Google to finally realize that in 2017, this whole look, as pointed out by The Verge, just won't stand:
Those olden days are now over, as it were. Moreover, Google committed to preventing Voice from falling into a neglected state again in the future. It's saying that regular updates and new features will be rolled out for the app and the web version by-and-by, although it wasn't clear about the frequency of these updates.
The update pushes out to Android Jan. 23 and is headed for iOS a couple of days afterward. Everyone will have it in a couple of weeks, Google says. Those who have been using Hangouts in lieu of Voice can still resume using Hangouts for features listed above, but Google says users are free to try the newly updated Voice app nonetheless.
"[Y]ou might want to try them out as we continue to bring new improvements," Jan Jedrzejowicz, product manager of Google Voice, says.
What do you think? Care to try and step out of Hangouts to try out the new Voice app? Tell us if it's any better than before in the comments section below!