Google Voice update gives app a welcome refresh

Google Voice sometimes feels like the forgotten service in Google's portfolio, but a new app update has given the calling service a quick refresh. Launched on iOS with an update this week, the new app won't blow anybody away with its new functionality, but it does make using Google Voice a little easier if it's your primary voice call system.

The new iPhone app adds a contacts tab to the bottom of the UI, making it easier to find a person's number and call them from there. Previously, the contacts icon was part of the dialer interface, but now it has been brought out with a spot of its own. If you're using Google Voice for messaging, this new location is far more convenient for starting up new conversations.

The other big change is found in the settings. Do Not Disturb has been revamped, with the ability to automatically activate it depending on what day and time it is. Until now, you've had to do that manually, flipping the switch in the settings pane.

Now, though, you can have it automatically toggle Do Not Disturb on and off depending on your working hours. You'll need to set those first, obviously. That's done in Google Calendar, which synchronizes with Google Voice to share the time settings.

The final change is what you see on your home screen. Gone is the old, squared-off app icon with a blue color scheme for the voice bubble. In its place is a circular version in green, much more like the icon Google uses for Hangouts.

As changes go, they're all relatively minor. Still, there have been times in Google Voice's history where the future of the service – which assigns a virtual phone number to an account, and allows it to redirect to multiple other numbers, useful for those who juggle several lines but want a single contact for them all – has been in question.

As such, any sign that Google hasn't given up on Voice is a heartening one. Earlier this year, Google launched a version of Voice for G Suite enterprise users, though there are currently few differences between that and the version more generally available.