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To Google Voice or Not To Google Voice?

July 16, 2009 | 3 Minute Read


I recently got a new iPhone 3GS (32GB!) and with it a new phone number. I’ve had a Google Voice number from way back when it was called GrandCentral. I never used it because I found the integration a bit lacking. As I now must inform people of my new number, I was thinking about giving them the Google Voice one instead of the “real” one. This is also as Google Voice is getting considerable buzz since it’s finally giving away invites after closing off the service quite some time ago.

Here are some pros and cons to either choice.


  • I don’t have to ever tell people I’m changing my phone number again in the future.
  • Neat voicemail transcripting.
  • Routing calls from phone to phone (I might want it to go to my work phone at certain times, mobile at other times)
  • Googliness?


  • The voicemail system won’t be integrated into my iPhone
  • There isn’t an official iPhone app for Google Voice yet.
  • SMS doesn’t work with short codes (40404 for Twitter)
  • Calls made through voice won’t count as “mobile-to-mobile.”
  • Other integration issues.
  • Possible dependency issues.

For me, Google Voice is pretty cool, but not cool enough to rely on because of its crappy integration. By crappy integration, I mean that Google Voice just simply cannot expect to integrate itself well into other companies’ phone systems. There are a number of examples of this. One is that if I want to send a text to someone, I need to use Google Voice to do it instead of my phone. This adds a layer of obfuscation to the process. Here’s what the help doc on Google Voice says:

Call, Voicemail and SMS Issues: Receiving SMS on phone from 406 numbers

When you send an SMS through Google Voice, the SMS appears to be sent from your Google number. When someone sends an SMS to your Google number, and it’s forwarded to your mobile phone, it won’t appear as from the sender’s actual number (e.g., the SMS may appear from 1-406-xxx-xxxx). This is so that when you reply to the 1-406-xxx-xxxx number from your phone, the SMS you send appears to be sent from your Google number and will be saved in your Google Voice inbox.

Holy crap, that’s just confusing! Another example of Google Voice not playing well with existing companies’ systems would be mobile-to-mobile calls. If I call my sister using Google Voice, the call probably won’t count as “free” since it’s going to Google instead of directly to her phone number. Though apparently if you add the Google Voice number to T-Mobile’s “Faves” you could get some pretty interesting free call results…

Another peeve I have about Google Voice is that they’ve decided to make the mobile apps for Blackberry and Android thus far. I wonder if this is because the iPhone is a competitor to their own Android platform or if they just decided it would be easier, or for any other reason. It kind of shows a “Microsoft Moment” for lack of better term for Google; writing software to serve their own ends versus writing software to reach their customers on the platform they use. I don’t have any numbers to back this up though (are there more Android+Blackberry users than iPhone?), so at this point I’m just complaining because I have an iPhone and it doesn’t have an app.

For now I will ditch Google Voice (or just not use it) until it can be integrated effortlessly into my own mobile phone’s system. The whole point of using Google Voice is to simplify things. I can see it’ll be a really complicated road ahead for Google to actually implement this, but I hope they do. It almost surely means they’ll need to work with phone companies directly. This will probably take time and lots of money. I’ll just stick with my own phone’s capabilities until then.