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What Google Voice Cannot Do

Limitations of Google Voice

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Map of United States of America, separate boxes showing Alaska and Hawaii
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Google Voice does many things and can be very helpful for many, as it stands out by the features it offers. However, many users do not simply register for the free service, but intend to use it for their businesses or other serious life activities. It may imply changing numbers, porting numbers, buying new phones and arranging new settings etc. It is therefore good to know what Google Voice isn’t, what it can’t do and what its limitations are, so one can decide on whether or how to use it before diving.

Not Outside the US

Google Voice is not available for people living outside the United States. This means that the service is closed for the huge majority of people around the world. Google has been talking about extending the service to beyond US borders, but nothing has come up in that direction so far. One possible reason is that since it deals with phone numbers and handles local carriers for free local calls and SMS, it will be difficult for it to manage that worldwide.

You Can’t Start Calls From Your Mobile Phone

While you do have mobile apps to use the service on Android, iOS and BlackBerry, you cannot initiate a call on your mobile phone, like you would using Skype. In fact, you have to initiate the calls on the web interface using your computer, then the call will be transferred to your mobile phone, which is when you can use the phone. This is something of a hassle, but more importantly, is a serious limitation on portability of the service.

No Free Worldwide Calls

Google Voice does a great thing in offering unlimited free calls all phones to the US and Canada, but calls to all other countries are billed at cheap VoIP rates. This is good performance on the market, but it has to be underlined that it is not a free service for international calling. Things have to be understood the other way as well. Callers worldwide can’t make free calls to Google Voice users. However, they can (until further notice from Google) make free calls to the US and Canada through Gmail free calling in their inbox after installing a special plugin.

Not a Phone Service

Google Voice is not a complete phone service that you can use to replace your home phone or mobile service. It lets your manage all your phones through a provided number and features. Read more on how Google Voice works.

Not a Softphone

A softphone is an app installed on a computer or mobile phone that simulates the functionality of a real phone. Softphones normally come with VoIP services. Google is only a service that requires no download and that works simply using a browser and your existing phones.

No Video Calls

Unlike with Skype, you can’t make video calls on Google Voice. The purpose behind this service does not make it appropriate to integrate video. For video calls, check these video calling apps and services.

Not SIP Service

Only part of the Google Voice service is VoIP, the rest is simple feature and number management. It does not support SIP but has its own mechanism for call management.

No MMS

You can do a lot of things with email, voicemail and SMS messages, like forwarding, transcription etc, but you cannot send and receive MMS, like pictures.

Not Direct User Support

Google Voice does offer a lot of frequently asked questions and a whole knowledge base of questions and troubleshooting information on its web site, but there is no possibility for users to obtain direct support, either through phone or email. This is comprehensible as millions of people are using the service for free.
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