- Use their current Sprint phone number as a Google Voice number, enabling all of Voice's awesome features to be utilized without having to create a group on Facebook to give out your new number.
- Allow current Google Voice users to use their Voice number for their Sprint line without having to port the number to Sprint, because, a while ago, they went through the trouble of creating a Facebook group and gave everyone they know their Google Voice number so now nobody has their Sprint number.
Right now, they are still rolling this out on some kind of invitation schedule. Quite a few people have already gotten their invite, and quite a few more have not. I, for one, got my invite yesterday and promptly locked myself in my basement to start writing about my experience with this whole Sprint and Google Voice shindig to help you guys know what to expect and what not to expect.
To give you a little bit of background, it should be noted that I first signed up for Google Voice before it existed as it does today. Some of you may remember a service called Grand Central. I was in the beta testing of THAT, years before GV was a gleam in somebody's eye. It should also be noted that my Sprint phone number is the single greatest, easiest, most "the ladies want to call this" number ever. I had a rough choice to make. Eventually, though, I opted to use the Google Voice number as my main number and forget all about my awesome, ladies-always-be-callin' Sprint number. Fair enough. At the cost of MMS, I was getting an insane amount of new features. After a couple of years, I'd fully assimilated my Google Voice number as my full-time phone number.
Fast-forward to yesterday. I got the email that my Sprint number was now eligible to integrate with Google Voice. "Huzzah!" I said to myself, quickly beginning to question my own sanity, shouting into an empty room. "Finally, I can have my sweet, fly-honey-getting number back!" I then promptly put a stop to the speaking out loud to nobody. As soon as I logged into Google Voice, a prompt appeared telling me that I can switch on the integration. I was now faced with a choice: Stick with the number everybody has, effectively solidifying my inability to receive MMS forever, but not having to give out a new number, or take back that old Sprint number, dust it off, and start going on dates [editor's note: photo of Brad. --Aaron]. At first, I opted to keep my Google Voice number.
So I did it. I chose option 2. It was super easy. A link click here, a little reading there, and I was done in five minutes. I promptly uninstalled the Google Voice app on my phone and made a few test calls and sent a few test texts. It worked. My Sprint phone officially showed my Voice number no matter what - awesome. I did, however, begin wondering if I could live without MMS; I began to regret the death of my Sprint number. So I made one last final decision: I was going to switch my number back and deal with the shame of giving everyone a new number.
You see, Google understood that people like me inherently make bad decisions, so there is a grace period on your decision to integrate. If you're using your Voice number and (essentially) getting rid of your Sprint number, you can simply hit the "deactivate" link next to your Sprint phone in the setting menu of Google Voice. If you opt to use your Sprint number as your Voice number, though, that change is a bit more permanent. At that point, you have until July to decide if it was the correct course of action. After that, the transformation is complete. This is cool because people like me have trouble deciding, so my non-Sprint Google Voice number will still remain "active" (it can still receive SMS and calls) within that grace period. All my outgoing SMS and calls, though, will be using my new number. I can switch back at any time, but I probably won't.
So, at this point, I'm going for the red pill. I want my skirt-chasing Sprint number to be my Voice number. Because of my first course of action, I now have to re-add my Sprint phone to my Google Voice account. I've done it a thousand times, so this was no problem. After I added my phone back to my account (which failed the first time, effectively murdering my faith in my ability to carry this out), it was a pretty simple process to get my Sprint number to commandeer my Voice account. You click on the "Port/Change Number" link in the settings menu where you see all the phones you have on your account. You will then be prompted to use your current Sprint number. That's the option you want to use, obviously. As soon as you do that, it will ask you to log out and back into all Google Voice apps you have on all of your devices. Once you've done all of this, you'll see you Sprint number in place of your Google Voice number on Voice's main page.
That's totally my Sprint number under the larger black bar, by the way. You'll just have to take my word for it. Unless you are a hot lady who needs a makeout. Then you can totally ask for proof. You'll also get this handy indicator next to the phone's listing in the add/remove phones page:
So there you have it - it's that easy, and it works flawlessly. It's been so long since I've used a stock messaging app or Handcent that I almost forgot how much better they are than the Google Voice app (no offense, Google. You're busy guys. I'm sure the app will be less hideous someday ;]). Sprint and Google did a great job implementing this. Overall, big thumbs-up to Google and an even bigger thumbs-up to Sprint for doing something I never thought I'd see a carrier do. You guys are awesome.