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Google Voice adds support for SMS short codes

Thousands of hearts rose and sank today when a Google Voice update landed in the play store, and it turned out to just be an update to add texting short codes to the service. While we've been holding out for a somewhat bigger update to Google Voice for some time now, we're not going to look this gift horse in the mouth.

The addition of texting short codes means that folks who rely on Google Voice as their primary number can use these codes for things like online banking, SMS alerts from services and many other uses. Previously if you attempted to enter a short code, the app would offer to attempt and send it via the default messaging app and carrier number — while this was useful because you'd get the short code sent, it wasn't from the number you wanted.

As the ability to text short codes also brings along "911" as a possible option, the update also gives you a warming message when you're about to send an emergency text message. Head to the Play Store link and update to the latest version of the app.

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.

  • I'm thinking we have to wait for KitKat to get the GV update we want. But, that should be soon!
  • Today, we got the update need, but not the one that we want.
  • Dat signal ...
  • Must be Sprint.
  • Or T-mo
  • MMS this lifetime? Posted via my thumb(s) and the Submit button
  • LOL. Yeah, I uses MMS, I've never used a short code. EVER.
  • Like Billy Bob Bad Santa says, "Wish in one hand ... " :) Maybe in KitKat.
  • This. I hardly ever received MMS messages until I switched to Straight Talk feeding my GV # and suddenly everyone seemed to start sending them. Posted via Android Central App
  • Google Voice just became 1000x more useful. Especially for activating on things like Facebook, Viber and Line.
  • Oh, and voting on stupid shows, don't forget that. My wife confiscates my phone to vote on shows, and try to win useless stuff.
  • Yawn...MMS or bust. C'mon Google! Chop chop
  • MMS sort of works. If someone sends you one you get an email with the contents. But really its 2013 MMS should of died a long time ago, just send an email, plus picture quality is much better.
  • for the millionth time, this is sprint only
  • I am on AT&T. What does carrier have to do with this? Its all GV.
  • MMS doesn't work the same way on every carrier. If the sender is on Sprint (or an MVNO using Sprint), the picture will be routed to email. That is not the case with other carriers.
  • But we are talking about Google Voice here or am I missing something?
  • When you call or text someone, it goes to a tower. That tower then sends data to a carrier, and that talks to another carrier, and then sends data to the destination. It's how a lot of things work in this world. And in this case, only Sprint people can send MMS to Google Voice accounts.
  • Oh ic what you mean. I am so used to using GV I forget about the other person that might not be using GV. I love using the Chrome plugin. They other user has no idea. I know how things work in this World being an engineer.
  • Only on Sprint
  • Works for me on T-Mobile. Hand to god. Tell em Andrew lol (I love rubbing it in)
  • Weird, never seen it work with T-Mobile but I do get the email notification when Sprint people send me MMS.
  • It works for me on T-Mobile as well.
  • WRONG. Please quit spreading disinformation. It only works with Sprint.
  • Nope, it also works with T-Mobile. Not only receiving them, but sending them as well; if you send an MMS to the "alternate GV number" that appears when you receive a message on your regular messaging app and the recipient is using T-Mobile, they receive the MMS and it appears to come from your GV number. Trust me, I've tried.
  • Google Voice is a dream for me. Another thing we don't have in Canada. Enjoy every time you use this application for me.
  • can Americans use Google Voice internationally?
  • We can use GV to call anywhere in the US or Canada for free, internationally for a per-minute charge, and send free SMS to Canada. GV accounts can't be created for non-US phone numbers, though.
  • i'm American and have GV. my question is - let's say i go to another country - can i use GV to call anywhere i want while i'm in said foreign country?
  • Yes, you can. I used my tablet to make calls over WiFi (using GrooVe IP) while working in Spain. Posted via SPH-L720
  • No. You can't. Google Voice uses the carrier and not VOIP (which is what it should be using). Unless maybe if you are doing International roaming. Which would be crazy because most countries have cheaper cell phone plans than the US, let alone taking into consideration insane roaming prices. But if you get a local SIM with a data plan, you could use plenty of VOIP apps like GrooveIP (although I have never had a good experience with them). I have Vonage and Vonage Extras works very well over IP.
  • Ah, I've never got GV to do an international text though. It receives them, but I can't reply.
  • I live in Canada and I have been using google voice for a while. Search it up.
  • who has ported their main number over to Google Voice and using GV 100%? what are the current cons? i use GV for Voicemail (GV "Lite") and love it. but i'm still fearful of jumping in 100%.
  • I ported mine over and my wife's. It was pretty simple. About a day down or vmail or text where it would show up one place or the other. You can always port over to another carrier when ready.
  • I haven't yet, but my friend did and he likes it except it was hard to explain to the carrier that he didn't want to cancel just port the number and get another random number for the phone itself.
  • Mms only downfall besides a outdated messaging app. Been using it for my main line for over a year (Ported main # to GV) The beauty is using multiple phones on multiple carries at the same time with the same number. Love it no regrets. Posted via Android Central App
  • no MMS is a pretty big downfall. a drunk-snapped picture is worth a million words and memories.
  • App isn't great, notifications can be flaky, no MMS, lag issues on some voice calls.
  • $20 to do that. No MMS, except from sprint customers, in which you'll get an email with an attached MMS and a notification via SMS. I've been using Google voice for I think 3 years now. Posted via my thumb(s) and the Submit button
  • Didn't have to port since GV offers Sprint integration but I will say it is awesome having access to all of my texts and voice mail from a computer. Posted via Android Central App
  • 1. i use GV Lite for Voicemail, MightyText for texts - so i get those features already.
    2. im w Sprint now and was afraid of integration - fearful Sprint would somehow lock me in.
  • No lock in. Turn off integration from voice site whenever you want. If your way works then stick with it. I like voice since it is only one service. Posted via Android Central App
  • I didn't port my number, but my GV number is the only one I give out so effectively I'm ported. My major issue is that I can receive SMS from international numbers through GV, but I can't reply to those texts from inside Google Voice. I have to go to the native messaging app and then the sender gets a reply from my "real" cellphone number, causing confusion... I wish Google would give me a way to do that, even if I have to pay 25c a time or something. When I'm overseas for a week or so I get a local SIM and use Groove IP over cellular data so my US GV number still rings the phone. I've done this in Austria and Germany, got SIMs with 1G of data for 20-25 Euros. It's all pretty seamless.
  • I ported mine over last year when I finally gave up on Sprint (after 14 years!). I love it, and it made it simple to try out things like Straight Talk while having another phone on T-Mobile. I use it a lot for texting so I'm glad to see Short Messages finally show up.
  • I intentionally didn't port over my phone number to GV for this reason. I only give my carrier number to family and friends I want calling me. Everyone else gets the GV number. This way, I can block callers and use the advanced features for stopping annoyances. I also use the GV number for work. While my employer does provide cell phones and other items they are so draconian with software management and privacy on Android, I will not use a work phone. Plus, I can make conference calls from a gaming headset using the Chrome Hangouts plugin. EDIT - When I am on vacation or don't want to be disturbed by work, I can put on the Do Not Disturb feature. Huge help if you work on the phone a lot with clients.
  • I have been using Google Voice for years now and it's great. I never cared about porting my number (wasn't available at the time). I just handed it out to everyone and have not had to hand out another phone number in all these years, in spite of relocating overseas for a couple of years in the middle, coming back, changing carriers, phones etc.
  • I've been using gv since the day it came out so this really makes my day
  • Wow, the day after I needed it. Now I can use it for phone number verification.
  • I tried to use my GV number for password verification with Blizzard for Diablo 3. I was told I needed to use a real number by the system. It just flat out refused to use my GV number. Adding in my carrier number worked fine.
  • This means I can subscribe to redbox Freebies now and have twice the Freebies... Did I mention that I love Freebies? Posted From my Motorola side view pager via 4-5683-8
  • I have an original cell number that I didn't port but everything is basically using my GV number now. Works really well with groove ip. It would be nice if google added similar functionality through the google voice app instead of relying on third party solutions. Maybe a merger with hangouts to offer calls mms and sms through one app?
  • Google has said several times that integration between Hangouts and GV has been the plan since work on Hangouts began. They've never hinted at a time frame or feature list, though.
  • While it is not the major update we all want, I think this is still Pretty good. Finally it is a *functional* update to the back end of GV, not just a facelift. It means action is still happening over there. Looking forward to more action! It has baffled me how much neglect google gives GV. I mean their whole goal is to shakeup the phone industry. GV does just that. It puts your phone number in your control. It makes your number independent of any single device or carrier. The knockout punch comes when it adds a full blown SIP service.
  • Does Google say their goal is to shake up the phone industry? They could easily make it full blown VoIP or SIP, which would make it almost indistinguishable from a phone company or carrier. But would they then become a telco or carrier in the eyes of government regulators? (not to mention in the eyes of mobile carriers with a lot of Android on their networks)? Maybe they don't want to deliver a knockout punch just yet...
  • Saw SMS and thought it said MMS...wishful thinking I guess
  • As usual... Another product that doesn't work for Canadian users... How annoying...
  • Ok, so the GV people all say "when are we getting mms?!??!?1" and the other people say "why the heck do you people want mms.. grow up.." Let's answer these two questions. "Why the heck do you people want mms.. grow up.."
    I have no control over what people send me. When someone sends me an MMS and I dont get it that is BAD. I have no idea they tried to contact me. It is kinda rude not reply to someone who messages you. Also many phones automatically send a group message as an mms. Meaning I dont get them. BAD. Again, I have no control over how people choose to message me. Not all my friends remember that I have two numbers and which number to use for what. "When are we getting mms?!??!?1"
    We aren't. SMS is a standard. MMS is not. Every carrier does MMS different and have come together to form an agreement in how to transmit MMS between each other. They have excluded Google in that agreement. We will get MMS when carriers decide they don't mind loosing lots of money. Unfortunately hell is going to freeze over first. One more common question:
    "But I use GV and I already get MMS!!1!11!"
    Because that MMS came from a sprint user. Sprint is slightly less evil.
  • If "Every carrier does MMS different" is true, how is it I can buy an HTC One unlocked, used its messenger app on T-Mobile or AT&T and successfully send MMS messages on either network?
  • They handle MMS differently on the back end. And in how they transmit messages amongst each other. The bottom line is that they have chosen to keep google voice out of the party.
  • Surprised they are still supporting this app.
    Isn't it being integrated into Hangouts (and also SMS)? I remember Google confirmed it.
  • can you do Group Texting with GV since there is no MMS? i know stock App uses MMS to do Group Texting - hence my question.
  • Depends on what you mean by group texting. You can send a text to multiple people at once. Those people will each receive it as a individual text. They will not be able to "reply all" as they do not know the other recipients. For many phones, when you send a group text it is automatically sent as MMS so that reply all is possible (an mms is more like an email; you can see everybody in the "To:" field). If someone sends a message to you in this way you will not receive it (unless they have sprint, in which case you get it as an individual text).
  • I personally would rather be sent an email with the picture. That way it's not compressed.
  • See my comment above. Regardless about whether you like MMS or not, not being able to get them is bad.
  • So this is weird - when I go into the Play store it shows the latest update for GV but says "open", not install, meaning it thinks I have the latest version installed. However I know for a fact it didn't update today (9 other apps did, but not GV). Same for Gmail. Do those apps update in the background regardless of how auto-update is set?
  • patience.
  • Ha! So the update's not "really" on my phone yet, right? That's what I was trying to confirm.
  • It is certainly confusing. If I look at it in the play store it shows short codes listed as new features and like you it looks like it is already installed. I dont know if it actually updated today. I dont remember seeing it. I usually dont pay attention to app updates because there are so many all the time but GV updates tend to catch my attention..
  • So I wised up and checked the version number on the phone, and it says its on the latest version ( so it definitely updated itself in the background (on my phone anyway). Must be more "Google Services" magic.
  • I noticed the same thing. I know that I didn't update the Google Voice app on my phone, but it shows that I'm on the latest version in Google Play, so I'm assuming they pushed the update to my phone in the background as well.
  • Nope, you like me and anyone who's been stalking gvoice fir updates has been running 4.2.80 for months. It's been the team blackout latest version for sometime as well. So they most likely are either rolling it out slowly to certain devices or they havent updated the app or the version number. I know I've been running 4.2.80 and haven't updated voice in quite some time thanks to Google.
  • I'm also running the latest version apparently, seeing the short code description in Play, but can't send messages to short codes. What am I missing?
  • Sigh. When will GV be integrated into a unified Google messaging platform? I expect that Voice will be ditched or rebranded soon. The MMS issue is a mega-fail, yet I still use Voice for the VM transcription, and free texting. The value proposition is lessening by the day, though.
  • I just love Google Voice. It rings everywhere. I can switch plans, carriers and phones and I have to let no one know. I can text from my desktop. Get gmail notifications of incoming messages. I used to look forward to new updates. But now I'm just dreading a big update, because that would most likely mean an integration with Hangouts which apart from completely sucking compared to the simplicity of Google Talk, means you have to get Google+. Which for me would be an end to using Google Voice. Because at this point, after trying to shove it down my throat at every turn, Google has just put my back up and I'll now never use Google+.
  • I downloaded google voice hoping that I could get a seperate/new/fake number. Not my sprint carrier number. Now google voice took control of everything. I cant even text on my regular messaging or voicemail on my phone. When I do get a notification, a bunch of different apps pop up and emails pop up with the same thing. Its annoying, and I want it gone. Please tell me how.