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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Google Voice gets a much-needed refresh

Over the years, I’ve relied on Google Voice to varying degrees. It’s been a handy way to have a separate phone number (so I don’t have to give out my cellphone number), send free text messages (from the days before iMessage), and make VoIP calls. But it’s been a while since Google paid any attention to the service, which was starting to not only look pretty long in the tooth but also seemed to be quickly following the likes of Google Buzz and Wave.

Good news, then, that Mountain View has announced a significant update to Google Voice, bringing new versions of the Android, iOS, and web apps, along with a few much-needed features.

New Google Voice

Most importantly, Google Voice is now able to send and receive MMS messages—crazy as it might seem, prior to this you couldn’t text pictures to people using the service; likewise with group messages, which Voice will now handle just as you’d expect. There’s also voicemail transcription for Spanish and in-notification replies. And Google has also put a new coat of paint on the apps, so they now feature simple and easy to navigate tabs for your texts, calls, and voicemails, as well as offering threading for texts.

Updates to the service and apps are rolling out gradually over the next few weeks, and best of all, Google also says “Going forward, we’ll provide new updates and features to the Google Voice apps.” So looks like Google Voice is back from the dead and ready to get back to work.

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[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]