An update to the Google Phone app came out a few days ago, but left many people wondering what the changes were. This version doesn't have a whole lot to show off, but a close examination does reveal a couple of interesting things both active and hidden inside the apk. Users now have the option to easily share voicemails as regular files, meaning you can email them to friends or easily stash them in cloud storage. From the perspective of a teardown, Google has also added the first signs of RCS support, meaning we can look forward to some new calling features to come along in the future. Read More
Skype is one of the most common ways to make video and VoIP calls, but there are a number of annoyances that seem to be carried over from traditional phone calls. It doesn't need to be this way, though, so Microsoft announced a few months ago that it planned to modernize Skype. Now, the first wave of changes are set to roll out, and they'll be coming to the Android app in the next few weeks. Read More
It's the year 2016, so you really shouldn't have to dial in to listen to your voicemail like some kind of caveman. What's next? A telescoping antenna on top of your phone? As of Android 7.1, Verizon customers with Nexus (and Pixel) devices have access to visual voicemail in the stock phone app. Read More
Google has been updating Hangouts a lot lately in an attempt to make it less terrible. It's definitely improving, but still has a way to go. With all the updating we've missed a few little changes along the way, and this is a particularly useful one—Hangouts will switch between the speaker and earpiece for voicemail depending on whether or not you've got the phone to your ear. Read More
Sometimes Google's voicemail transcription is good enough to get the point across, and other times it's a seemingly random collection of words that only make sense when you're under the influence of really great narcotics. But maybe no more. Google has announced that better transcriptions are rolling out with a 49% reduction in the error rate. This applies to both Google Voice and Project Fi. Read More
Voicemails are terrible. Anyone willing to sit through the message and talk to a machine rather than send you a text message probably doesn't have good news. Android M will make the whole process a little less painful with native visual voicemail. It's just a basic implementation in the preview, and it won't work on all carriers just yet. Still, pretty cool.
Ever since Google integrated Voice with Hangouts, listening to voicemail has been a highly-focused affair. Unlike traditional voicemail, which we're conditioned to hold up to our ear like a phone call, voicemail in Hangouts comes with a play button that encourages us to treat it more like the audio file that it is. This is the same way Google Voice has treated it on the web for forever.
The downside is that turning off the screen or backing out of Hangouts has, until recently, caused the message to immediately stop playing. With the release of version 2.5, that apparently changed. You can now listen to voicemail with the screen dark or while using another app entirely, leaving the message to play in the background. Read More
Google will soon roll out changes to Voice intended to prevent unauthorized access to our voicemail inboxes. To access accounts via phone, you will now have to call from a verified forwarding number. If you're calling from a number Google doesn't recognize, you will be prompted to enter a verified number instead. In addition to this, PIN codes can now be up to 10 digits long. These changes will take effect starting on the first day of October, and anyone who signs in via a web browser should receive a notification giving them a head's up.
If you want to tinker with your phone forwarding or voicemail settings before these changes take effect, here are instructions for doing so straight from Google. Read More
Speak softly and carry a big user base. It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but that might as well be the unofficial motto of WhatsApp. The cross-platform messaging service has been quietly spreading over the last couple of years, coming to every major mobile platform and gaining over 300 million active monthly users, according to AllThingsD. What's next for the quiet revolution? Voice communication.
Well, sort of - it's more like a short voicemail message, not a live two-way conversation. But the hook is that it's free, like the WhatsApp apps and its SMS-style service. (Users get a year-long free trial, then it's just a $.99-per-year subscription.) Today Push-to-talk messages have been enabled for all versions of the app on all platforms, allowing connected users to talk to each other with only the connection cost in their way. Read More