Google has finally updated the Google Voice apps for Android and iOS. The Google Voice website has also been updated. The new apps and site use the current Google Material Design look, but more importantly they bring most of the features of Google Voice back into a single app. Here's what's changed:
You can now send and receive MMS picture and group messages using the new Google Voice apps and website. You no longer need to use the Hangouts app for MMS. If you are currently using Hangouts for Google Voice messaging, the first time you launch one of the new new apps it will ask you if you want to switch to using the Google Voice app for Google Voice messaging or continue to use Hangouts.
If you manage multiple Google accounts, each with their own Google Voice number the new apps let you switch from one account to another.
The new apps use a tabbed interface, with separate tabs for call logs, messaging and voice mail.
The Google Voice website has been redesigned. Everything has been moved around, but it looks like all the old functionality is still there and new features have been added. The web interface for sending messages has been revamped to to support sending a message to multiple recipients. There's a new button that lets you add photo attachments to a message. Sending a video or any other type of file except an image doesn't seen to be supported.
As before, the Google Voice app does not do VoIP calling. For that you still need to use Hangouts. Google has said that they plan to re-purpose Hangouts as an IM and video conferencing app for businesses, so I suspect VoIP calling using your Google Voice number will eventually move to the Google Voice apps too.
I always felt that Hangouts why trying to do too many things at once. Combining Hangouts IM, Hangouts video and audio calling and conferencing, plus carrier SMS and MMS, plus Google Voice SMS, MMS and VoIP calling all in one app was confusing. More than once I accidentally sent an IM or a carrier SMS when I meant to send a Google Voice SMS. With the latest changes I was able to change my default carrier messaging app back to Messages, and use the Google Voice App for Google Voice SMS and MMS and use Hangouts strictly for IM and video and audio conferencing.
Google says the new apps will be rolled out gradually to users over the next few weeks. If you are like me and want it right now, the Android APK is available for download from Android Police's APK Mirror site.
For more about Google Voice, what it does and how to use it see our The Prepaid Users Guide to Google Voice and Hangouts post.
Source, Image: Google Blog via Android Police.