Google Voice Makes Faster Calls on Android, BlackBerry

Google added direct access numbers to its Google Voice for mobile application on Android and Blackberry smartphones. The company is actively soliciting suggestions from users about how to improve Google Voice.

Google July 22 moved to accelerate calls placed on Android and Blackberry smartphones through its Google Voice for mobile application, the latest in a string of changes the company has made to its phone management tool.

Google Voice is a free Web calling and phone management application. The program, which is used by more than 1.4 million people in the world, gives users one number to ring their home, work and mobile phones.

The app, which was just made available to everyone in the U.S. June 22, also lets users make free calls and text messages in the United States and Canada and make low-cost international calls.

The mobile version for Google Voice Android and Blackberry phones, available to those who already have a Google Voice number, now allows users to place calls much faster.

To this point, when people used the the Google Voice app to make a call, the app logged a request with the Google Voice server to send the phone number the user wished to dial. The call would be connected via a Google Voice access number.

Google is now using a feature called "direct access numbers." Google now assigns a unique phone number to every person a user calls, essentially bypassing the data network to access the server each time a user places a call.

Hence, faster calls. Google Voice for mobile is available here.

Users with Android and Blackberry devices may download it and a Web version is available for Apple iPhone, Microsoft Windows Mobile and Nokia smartphone users. However, these platforms aren't accorded the same faster calling access.

What's not clear is whether or not this was a commonly requested feature by Google Voice mobile users, or just a perk the Google Voice team decided to add. Google Voice Product Manager Vincent Paquet told eWEEK in a June interview that he is soliciting input from users about how to improve Google Voice.

Since that time, eWEEK has been flooded with suggestions. While demand for Skype-like international calling is a constant, Bob said he wanted to be able to host conference calls on Google Voice. Kyle said he would love to see Google Voice texting integrated with Google's Chat service.

"I love being able to text from my computer, but Voice's interface leaves much to be desired. If I could talk to people in Chat and have it automatically switch to texting when they sign off (already somewhat possible, but it doesn't come from my Google Voice number) that would be a dream."

He also said the biggest thing barring him from using Voice as his primary phone number is the lack of multimedia messaging service support. Patrick chimed in:

"I completely agree. MMS is now part of everyday life and Google Voice should reflect that. Lack of MMS support is the ONE and ONLY thing that's stopping me from using my Google Voice number as my primary number.Google, could you please implement this ASAP? Or at least let us know what your plans are?"

The Google Voice team was testing a desktop client, only to have it scrapped by management. One Google Voice fan started up this giveusgvdesktop petition three weeks ago and it now has some 3,600 signatures.

What's the value of a desktop-based app for Google Voice? One anonymous reader wrote:

"If there is no desktop app, then I will not use it. I don't use web access on my smartphones, only because it is not integrated into the cellphone agreement for my contract with AT&T. Until the issue of web access being a standard integrated function at no extra charge per month, I will not use it."

So for as many improvements as Google injects in Google Voice, there are always more to be made to please existing users.