Those of you who were worried about Google Voice receiving the same fate as Google Reader, have no fear. Nikhyl Singhal, the Director of Product Management, Real-Time Communications at Google, has recently confirmed on Google+ that Voice will eventually be rolled into Google’s newly-launched Hangouts chat and instant messenger service:
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.
This is certainly great news, and it’s what many people were actually expecting already before Hangouts officially launched. However, while this specifically addresses many of the concerns I raised last week, I still would have preferred to see the new Hangouts app a bit more polished before launch.
It’s also still unclear whether or not Google will continue to support all of Voice’s extra features when the merge with Hangouts is complete, such as selective call forwarding, call screening, and call recording. Right now, none of this is available in Hangouts – you can only receive calls and add phone call to video Hangouts. All in all, it’s very clunky right now, but I’m confident Google will make everything much more seamless soon. I just hope that we don’t lose any more features in the process.