Google Voice just received its first update in years. I’ve been using it since June of 2011, when I was still just a high school student, when Google Voice offered me a way to do unlimited texting for free. I could also text from my computer, which was a big deal before iMessage came around. My Google Voice inbox has nearly 10,000 threads of conversation, each up to 500 texts long.
So why is this a big deal? Who cares? Why not just use iMessage or Hangouts?
This update is a big deal because Google isn’t giving up on their Voice users, who are some of the most die-hard I’ve ever witnessed. Google has this attitude of dropping every service that doesn’t reach a billion users, and years of silence made it seem as if Google Voice was next on the chopping block, but this latest announcement means it’s here to stay.
Google Voice has a cult following of users because there really isn’t another product quite like it. I can call and text from just about any device you can name (from the same number I’ve had for years), make calls for free, screen/block/record calls, integrate voicemails, calls, and texts with different services through email, receive instant text voicemail transcriptions, and search through old conversations.
And it’s the last point that’s the biggest for me and a lot of other Google Voice users. I have just about every conversation I’ve had with everyone in my life over the past six years recorded. To some, that can be a privacy nightmare. To me, it’s years and years of valuable information, whether for memory’s sake or nostalgia’s sake, and I don’t want to switch services and lose all of that seamless integration. Even using Facebook Messenger fragments my conversations, but with Google Voice, everything from the past is in one place and can be easily exported and analyzed. Maybe I’m just a digital hoarder, but I think the fans are on to something here. We endured years of a buggy and unmaintained app just to have access to this service, and now that the Google Voice team is bringing it back to life, I’m excited for the years of seamless communication to come.