Google Voice for Android Gets Easy Access Widgets

Google adds an inbox and settings widget to its Google Voice for Android application, making the phone management tool easier to use from Android smartphones.

Google Sept. 9 upgraded its Google Voice for Android application, adding two new home screen widgets to make accessing messages and settings easier.

Google Voice is the company's phone management application, allowing users to route calls through a special Google phone number to their work landlines and mobile devices. Users can also use voicemail transcription and other management tools.

The technology, used by more than 1.4 million people, has been applied to Gmail to let users make calls from a dialer in their Gmail accounts.

Google Voice for Android, which users download from the Android Market, extends the call management capabilities to users of Android smartphones.

The refreshed appincludes a Google Voice Inbox widget to surface recent voicemails and text messages on the home screen.

Users can tap on any message preview to open it in the Google Voice app on their Droid, Evo 4G or whatever Android phone they use.

The new Google Voice Settings widget provides four icons that users can tap to access different functionality in the app.

For example, users may access the full Google Voice app by clicking the Google Voice icon.

Users may also quickly compose and send free text messages; change their dialing preferences on the fly; and choose a do not disturb option to send calls directly to voicemail if they're too busy to chat.

Google Voice for Android users can add the new widgets to a home screen panel by pressing the menu button from the home screen and tapping through to Add, then Widgets, then by selecting Google Voice Inbox or Google Voice Settings.

The widget upgrades come one week after Google added a feature to the Google Voice desktop app that lets users receive notifications of missed called in their inbox.

Google Voice has some other potentially exciting news on the horizon. Thanks to Apple's loosening of its iPhone developer rules, Google may see its native Google Voice application approved in Apple's App Store.