Google’s upcoming Google Voice changes have claimed their first victim. GrooVe IP has announced on their Facebook page that they will be shutting down the service on May 15th, 2014. That’s the date Google will force third-party apps to stop using Google Voice as part of their services. This is part of a move by Google to make Google Voice more secure and third-party apps, like GrooVe IP, have been using unauthorized access to Google Voice through the XMPP protocol.
Google has moved away from this protocol when it launched Hangouts and moved both messaging, voice and video chat to a proprietary (and closed) technology. This will make Google Voice more secure, something Google probably needs to get better support from carriers around the globe if they plan to expand Google Voice’s availability.
The makers of GrooVe IP, snrb labs, seem to embrace Google’s decision without too much trouble, at least that’s what I get from the way they made the announcement on their Facebook page. They obviously know that what they were doing wasn’t entirely what Google intended and that they were in violation of Google’s terms and services, fully aware that the XMPP access could go away any day. The company is not disappearing though, they have other projects like Tether It, which allows you to create a WiFi hotspot on your device without having to be rooted and without any carrier permission.
Over the next 6 months, GrooVe IP will still be available but they won’t be updating the app any further and it’ll be staying at version 1.4.6 with only fixes for critical bugs on the horizon.
We’ll probably see more of these announcements in the coming days and in 6 months, the only way to use Google Voice will be on the official app or most likely in Hangouts once the transition is complete. The first part of the Google Voice/Hangouts integration will happen early next year, when Hangouts will gain the ability to handle Google Voice SMS messages which right now is limited to Sprint thanks to the much needed carrier support.
If you’re a Google Voice user, leave your opinion in the comments below, what app are you using and what do you think of the Hangouts integration.