Everyone expected Google's new Hangouts feature – the long-rumored Babel service – to put an end to multiple messenger applications. We hoped it would combine GTalk, Google+ Messenger, and Google Voice at the very least. Unfortunately, that's not exactly what we got... yet, anyway.
According to a recent Google+ post by Nikhyl Singhal, manager of real-time communication products (like Hangouts) for Google, that could start to change very soon. Firstly, Singhal addressed the removal of outgoing calls for Google voice, stating that "they're working hard to support both [inbound and outbound] calls," and they should both be available soon. Good new for Voice junkies, no doubt.
Singhal went on to address where Hangouts is heading, calling it the "future of Google Voice" – a pretty big promise. Looks like Google may have plans to fully replace Voice with Hangouts, as phone calls are "just the beginning" and "future versions of Hangouts will integrate Google Voice more seamlessly."
Now if Big G will throw the stock SMS/MMS app into the mix as well, we'll really have an integrated unified messaging service.
Here's Singhal's statement in its entirety:
Hangouts, phone calls and Google Voice
Thanks for all of your feedback on last week's Hangouts launch. I wanted to quickly talk about 1) making/receiving phone calls in Gmail, and 2) Google Voice support more generally.
1) Today's version of Hangouts doesn't yet support outbound calls on the web and in the Chrome extension, but we do support inbound calls to your Google Voice number. We're working hard on supporting both, and outbound/inbound calls will soon be available. In the meantime, you can continue using Google Talk in Gmail.
2) Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making/receiving phone calls is just the beginning. Future versions of Hangouts will integrate Google Voice more seamlessly.
Nikhyl Singhal (Google+)