For the last few years, it has always felt like Google Voice, the company’s VoIP calling solution, was on its way out. Instead, the video-centric Hangouts was getting all of the attention. But fret not, Google tells me that it is “growing its investment in Google Voice” and starting today, it will integrate Voice and Hangouts with the launch of its redesigned Hangouts apps for Android and iOS, as well as on the web. This new version of Hangouts is rolling out to all users over the next few days and the Google Voice features will be available shortly after.
Google is taking more steps today toward morphing Hangouts into a single communications platform — by adding more Google Voice features. In a post today on the Official Google Blog, the company announced: “Starting today you can make voice calls from Hangouts on Android, iOS and the web. It’s free to call other Hangouts users, it’s free to call numbers in the U.S. and Canada, and the international rates are really low.” For some time, the company has characterized Hangouts as “the future of Google Voice,” and in July of last year, Google added the ability to make voice calls from Hangouts. The new Hangouts now allows users to employ Google Voice’s SMS text messages or voicemail (if first enabled in the conversation list). “This is a big, big step forward,” Current Analysis analyst Tim Banting told VentureBeat. “We went from the initial stage of unified communications [to this] unified communications 2.0,” he said.