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Any Google customer will know that the search engine giant has its fair share of options to choose from if you're looking for communication services and collaboration apps. Google Docs means that people in a team can collaborate on projects simultaneously, adding notes and comments to files in real-time. Google Hangouts ensures that you always have a way to connect with your colleagues through web chat or instant messaging. There's even Gmail for people who prefer to do their communicating over email.
Unfortunately, for the most part, Google Voice seems to have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to popularity and functionality. In 2017, the Voice application received a well-overdue redesign, which left it brimming with a stronger UI and a range of fantastic features, but even then, there was something missing - the presence of a reliable VoIP strategy.
However, now that Google is beginning to focus more of its attention on becoming a competitor in the UCaaS space, "Voice" is finally getting the focus that it deserves. VoIP is finally coming to Voice, delivering the high-level functionality that companies need in their communication apps. If you're as thrilled about the news as we are, then you'll also be happy to know that you can sign up to test the new Wi-Fi and mobile-data calling services available through Google.
Upgrading the Google Voice Experience
Google Voice has long been a useful service in the G-Suite, offering benefits to those who want to build their entire communication stack on Google. The new enterprise-ready version of Google Voice will give businesses access to the tools they need to strengthen their communication stack, including AI-powered voicemail transcription, and ported phone numbers. Admins will even be able to deploy phone numbers for teams based on departments or employees, to make managing phone conversations easier.
The introduction of VoIP, alongside other features to the Google Voice experience, comes from an overarching attempt by the brand to spread adoption of G-Suite among larger companies and enterprises. The Wi-Fi beta testing service is currently available on the web and the Android app, and you can sign up by simply filling out a form here. Don't worry; Google will tell you everything you need to know about getting started.
It's interesting that Google has taken this alternative approach to building a UCaaS service for their customers. While other companies have focused initially on voice, and then tried to get into the collaboration business using solutions like Hangouts, Slack, and even Microsoft Teams, Google has taken the opposite route. The search giant started with collaboration and is now beginning to focus more on the potential that voice can bring.
What You Can Expect in the Early Adopter Program
If you're the kind of person who likes to stay ahead of the trends with your communication and collaboration apps, then you'll probably be one of the first in line to test out the new version of Google Voice Beta. (We've already signed up ourselves). In an announcement about the early access program, Google announced that their Voice update, complete with VoIP support, is designed to serve customers who consider voice to be a critical part of their business.
The new telephony offering, first and foremost, gives users a phone number that can be distributed around the enterprise, with no specific restrictions to a device. This means that with Google Voice, you can receive and place calls from any device you choose and use Google in conjunction with other parts of your G-Suite strategy to supplement your UC&C plan too.
Google notes that as part of the early adopter program, you'll be able to tap into:
A comprehensive application experience available for web, Android, and iOS users. The app allows you to link your existing Google G-Suite account to your Google Voice number for a comprehensive UC strategy.
The flexibility that comes with allowing users to choose their own numbers set up calling preferences, and accomplish more with voice.
The option for administrators using Google's G-Suite to assign numbers throughout the enterprise, syncing with the company director as well as Google Contacts
Fast deployment options including numbers that can be assigned both in bulk and on a per-user basis.
G-Suite integrations with various essential applications including Google Calendar and Hangouts Meet.
There's Still Room to Grow
While the concept of a VoIP ready version of Google Voice has gotten the industry buzzing about new opportunities for Google Communication and Collaboration, it's worth remembering that we're still in Beta stage. While you can accomplish a lot with the upgraded Google Voice solution, there are limitations to what's available. For instance, current bugs include:
- You can't use Obihai devices if you enable calling over Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth on Android causes buttons on your device not to work for declining and accepting calls. In fact, you're better off staying away from Bluetooth accessories when using the Google Voice Beta entirely.
- Wi-Fi calling only works in Google Chrome on your computer. There are talks of support for Edge, Firefox, and Safari to come, but we'll have to wait a little while for these.
Once the kinks are worked out of the system, Google Voice with VoIP should have a lot to offer G-Suite users. As well as being able to make calls on your Android and iOS phones, Voice calls should also function on tablets and other devices without cellular radios too. This means that even if you're in a place without a good connection, you should be able to stay in touch with your teams over Wi-Fi. Google will also be offering support for calls through the Voice web interface.
Want to be A Beta Tester for the New Google Voice?
Although Google has some work to do before it will have the perfect VoIP experience for G-Suite users, it's definitely worth giving this new update a shot if you're interested in learning more about what you can do with the Google platform. The application form is already open, and it doesn't take a lot of time to sign up if you're already a G-Suite user.
As always, stay posted to hear more about our experiences with Google, and discover the latest G-Suite updates - or contact us for a more personalized chat.