Google Hangouts has finally gotten one step closer to Google Voice integration, although it’s not quite all the way there yet. The Chrome extension, which is available on Chrome OS and Chrome for Windows and OS X, was recently updated to version 1.2013.522.1, fixing the previous bug that prevented users from answering incoming Google Voice phone calls.
Previously, when someone dialed your Google Voice number, you would only sometimes be presented with an option to answer the call. Most of the time, however, you would hear the incoming call notification, but there would be no way to take the call.
Additionally, when actually able to answer the Google Voice phone call, users would be presented with confusing language about being in a video call with the phone number, even though Google Voice is not compatible with video calling. In the latest version of Google Hangouts, this language has been corrected to reflect the fact that you are actually in a phone call.
Even though this is a massive improvement, and I no longer have to worry about missing calls when I’m using my Chromebook, we’re still a long way from full integration with Google Voice. Google Hangouts still can’t handle SMS, for example, and the webcam still comes on during phone calls, even though there’s no need for it. My contact list isn’t integrated into caller ID for the incoming call, and there aren’t any options to record the incoming call or screen it. Additionally, there’s no easy way to initiate a phone call – users on Chrome OS still have to select the video call launcher from the app list, and then select the option to add a telephone number to the video call.
In other words, while it’s apparent that Google is working on making things better, some things still feel very clunky, and I wish Google would have worked out all the kinks before releasing this Google Talk replacement to the masses. I have been hearing rumors of a big Hangouts announcement later this week, though, so maybe Google’s got even more goodies up its sleeves. We’ll just have to wait and see!
Download: Chrome Web Store