Examining the new Google VoIP Service

Posted on: 2018-04-24 | Categories: VoIP Services

Businesses looking to upgrade to VoIP have a plethora of choices. VoIP service providers have plans that cater to households, small businesses, and larger corporations. Most entrepreneurs and small businesses cannot afford expensive solutions. Many of them try to make do with free services when the business is still small.

Google Voice is one such free service that can augment regular phone service for individuals and households. It even offers a few key features that make it suitable for small businesses. A recent update finally brings true VoIP over Wi-Fi or carriers data to the Google Voice app on Android and the web. This has been a long requested feature by users of the service. But before examining the new VoIP addition, let’s take a look at what Google Voice actually does.

What Does Google Voice Do?

When it first launched in 2009, Google Voice offered many features that were not available to consumers in the market for the low price of zero dollars. Users could sign up for a new Google Voice (GV) number to use the service. This new number one tied together all the other numbers a person might have such as home phone, work phone, cellular phone etc.

In theory, a person would hand out their GV number to others instead of a specific work or home number. When someone calls that number, Google Voice can route the call to any device you specify. For instance, you could set up work hours from 9 to 5 during which only your work phone will ring but not other devices.

Google Voice also offered other features like automatic voicemail transcription, forward voicemails to your email inbox, send text messages etc. Customers could place calls to numbers within the US and Canada for free. Although international texting was unavailable, users could dial international numbers for a small fee.

At first glance, Google Voice may appear to be an excellent VoIP service for individuals, entrepreneurs and even small businesses. But features that were groundbreaking in 2009 no longer impress enterprise users in 2018. Quite apart from that, Google Voice still used your carrier minutes to place calls. It didn’t really have a true VoIP solution where you can make calls over Wi-Fi or cellular data.

VoIP Comes to Google Voice

Google Voice customers have been asking for VoIP calling through the app for quite some time now. A few years ago, Google incorporated Google Voice features into its instant messaging app called Hangouts. However, users have to download yet another app called Hangouts Dialer that would add a new tab to the messaging app specifically to place VoIP calls.

The latest update to Google Voice finally brings the much-requested VoIP calling features to the app itself. Currently in beta, users can sign up for testing the new feature and provide feedback to the company. By and large, the app experience has not changed much for users. Once enrolled in the beta, customers will have a new menu in the settings. Users can now set the app to prefer Wi-Fi and mobile data instead of using carrier minutes.

Finally, Google Voice customers can get rid of the Hangouts Dialer app whose only use was to make VoIP calls. With this update, Google Voice can now function as a full-fledged alternative to cellular connections.

Is Google Voice Right for Your Business?

The right VoIP service for any business depends on specific requirements and the internal network environment. Google Voice does offer many of the features available in enterprise-grade VoIP services. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly suitable for the vast majority of businesses.

Google Voice is almost perfect for contractors who work from home, entrepreneurs, and small businesses with a single employee. If you’re thinking of starting your own business and already have a Google account, it makes perfect sense to start using Google Voice. While you can transition to other services as your needs change, the free service is appropriate at the beginning.

However, businesses with even a handful of employees will not find it easy to use Google Voice. Considering it’s a free service, you don’t have a lot of support options when something was wrong. If your issue is not addressed by the FAQs or in some obscure chat group/forum, you’re out of luck. Google also pushes frequent updates to the service that changes functionality or breaks crucial features.

Google Voice doesn’t come with any service level agreements or guarantees. Audio quality can vary substantially depending on your data connection. You won’t get the reliability that reputed service providers can offer either. As the business grows, your needs will almost certainly outpace the functionality that Google Voice can offer. At the end of the day, most business owners will want to seek out dedicated VoIP service providers that offer enterprise-grade features.