How Google Hangouts Has Made Life More Difficult for Google Voice Users

As an entrepreneur I have used Google Voice on my iPhone for a few years. You get a phone number with a local area code from anywhere, and it’s free. Recently, though, Google decided to merge Google Voice with Google Hangouts the chat service. On the surface this is an idea with a lot of potential, but in practice Google has neglected some things that have made it more difficult to use Google Voice after the Hangouts merger.

#1. The call quality of Google Voice calls has declined dramatically in the Hangouts iOS app. The audio drops out randomly and the voice of the caller or the receiver will lag unexpectedly. This is especially nerve-racking when you are trying to handle something important or urgent and you can’t communicate clearly with your caller.

#2. There is no way to add a contact from within the app. If someone texts you introducing themselves, there is no “Add to Contacts” button that lets you add them to your phone. Furthermore, you can’t even highlight and copy the number to paste it into your Phone or Contacts app.

All you can do is memorize the number and type it into your contacts. It’s almost like Google didn’t even try to use Hangouts with Google Voice, because if they did, they would have certainly encountered this annoyance.

#3. You can no longer access your texts, calls, and voicemails in the browser. I used to check on my calls and texts in my browser, and I loved how I could perform text searches for text messages OR voicemails in Google Voice. Now that it’s been integrated with Google Voice, this feature no longer works. The only thing that works is the app client for Google Hangouts which is only available in Chrome.

#4. Hangouts mixes up chat and phone contacts. Another annoying thing is that when you search for a contact in Hangouts it doesn’t just show you your phone contacts, it also shows you other people from Hangouts, Google+ and the Google network. It also shows you the Hangouts accounts of your friends, many of whom won’t get your message on your phone except in Hangouts whenever they might sign in.

#5. If you make a phone call on Hangouts and you receive a new incoming call while you’re on the line, the incoming call forces the first call audio to drop. Your first call remains connected but it is muted. Huge problem when you’re on an important call.

Google Hangouts Not Fit to Replace Google Voice

Ever since the merger with Google Hangouts, it just hasn’t been the same for us Google Voice has-beens. The downsides of the new app (in terms of Google Voice features) seem so glaring to me that it makes me wonder how seriously Google takes the old functionality of providing a phone number for use on a mobile device — apparently, not very.

The new Google Voice service through Hangouts is so bad that I find myself scrambling to try to find an alternative solution before it becomes a detriment to my business.

Does anyone else feel like Google Voice users have been left in the dust? What alternatives would you recommend?

12 thoughts on “How Google Hangouts Has Made Life More Difficult for Google Voice Users”

  1. How can I answer a phone call in google voice? They won’t give me an option to answer only to hang up on the phone call I am receiving from a roommates phone. How do I answer the call?

  2. Interesting. But I believe google’s strategy is to phase out voice, and only the hangout architecture will survive in the long run.

    The phone-centric voice service is legacy. And there are many other companies do the voice service, which google doesn’t want to compete with.

  3. Still worse than when we could use other apps and google voice app. Hangouts is a joke and hasn’t improved, and its almost 2017. Google Voice has lost a lot of its functionality since Google wanted to kick people out and take it over.

    • and way more problematic in Hangouts. An now, with one of Google’s amazing updates, none of my iPhones ring on hangouts anymore.

  4. Hangouts is terrible! Don’t use it. Stick with google voice and contact google so it can add search and picture sending and video chat to it!!!

  5. Google. Doesn’t. Care.

    Sadly, all their products are suboptimal, but they know they don’t have to fix them. (Ever tried to paste something into a gmail message and not have the option to format it to the same size as the other text?)

    Sadly, I have few options as cell service does not work in my home. I need landline 2-3 times a week (for university calls from professors), total about an hour. Hangouts won’t let me receive inbound calls, and when it does, the above mentioned connection issues happen. Sad that I have to chose from being at my computer or being on the phone. (Is this 1998?)

  6. I’m so glad I never made the switch. I hope I can continue using the old interface until they improve the experience. I did however upgrade my iOS on my iPad (I stayed with iOS 6 for as long as possible) and now everything is sooo slooow. I was forced to upgrade my Google Voice app, and now there’s no times on the text messages! I have to open the web interface to see what time someone texted me. I feel like they did that on purpose to make it just inconvenient enough that I’ll want to merge it into Hangouts.

  7. I also agree, I held out as long as I could by using other browsers for my gmail source and therefore continuing use of my google voice account. I liked my account because it allowed me to set it up to ring on any phone I owned and that meant I only had to memorize one phone number and give it out and not have to give out any other personal numbers that I didn’t want anyone to know. Not it appears with the new Google Hangouts, you are forced to have a smart phone so that you can download the app on it. Well, I may be old fashioned or it may be just the plain fact that my monthly budget doesn’t allow me the luxury of owning one. I did though recently purchase a special device that allowed me to connect my home phones to the internet so that I could therefore have the ability to have service through Gmail Voice but now they no longer work because the service has been terminated by Google! Go figure!

  8. definitely agree with the voice call randomly drops. I use hangout for work conference call on my PC. It drops all the time and I have re-dial back in 🙁

  9. It’s less convenient now to use the laptop as a phone. Often sound quality makes it impossible to continue the call. Incoming calls unexpectedly send what I’m doing into the background. It’s slower to make and answer calls. They’ve taken something that worked and made it worse.

  10. Yes, all five of those things have driven me crazy. It’s like they got halfway through merging the functionality, said “ship it!” and then walked away from it. ~ Scott


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