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Handling the loss of Google Voice features in Project Fi, and how things change

We've already established that moving from Google Voice to Project Fi isn't all that scary, but now that we're using Fi ourselves we can talk about exactly how it works once you make the switch. Thankfully most of the high-level features remain the same, but just pick up a simpler interface and a reliance on Hangouts.

And then when it comes to the more advanced features, you actually still have access to the old Google Voice interface if that's your sort of thing. Of course you don't keep everything you're used to in Voice, but the losses aren't that big of a deal. Let us walk you through the details.

Where did the Google Voice features go?

You can manage call forwarding — one of Voice's biggest features — right in the Project Fi website or app. Open either one, and right at the bottom of the page you'll see a "Settings" area to manage call forwarding. If you have any numbers set up to forward from your old days in Google Voice they'll already be here, and you can easily add a new number or remove an old one. Unfortunately you can't do much else other than edit your service address, toggle notifications and hear your voicemail greeting (you'll have to call voicemail manually to set a new one).

Project Fi offers the high-level Google Voice experience, but is missing some of the hardcore features.

But thankfully, the Google Voice website actually still works for management after porting to Fi — there's even a link to the website at the bottom of the Fi page. Once there you can still manually control forwarding numbers and which ones are actively working to route calls via your Fi number, as well as manage your call screening settings. The "Groups and circles" call management options are still here and confusing as ever, too. Remember that for outgoing calls from non-Fi phones, you'll still need the Google Voice app installed or use the Hangouts app for VOIP calls.

You lose a handful of more advanced Voice features when going to Fi, too. The Google Voice website no longer gives you access to voicemail, or the ability to make/receive calls and texts — you'll have to use Hangouts now (more on this below). The Project Fi help pages do a pretty good job laying out the other losses, which include spam filtering, call recording, call switching, on-the-fly conference calling and the ability to forward to Obihai home phone devices.

Over time we'd expect the Project Fi website and app to pick up the slack and be a full-featured replacement for the Voice website and app, but right now you can at least know that the old site is here and available, even if all of the features aren't. This is definitely still a "Project" in this respect, and it isn't clear how many of the lost Google Voice features can eventually be restored.

Using your Fi number in Hangouts across platforms

Project Fi number in Hangouts

Though you lose some of the aforementioned advanced Google Voice features, Google is hoping that the integration of Project Fi into the Hangouts app on a variety of platforms will make up for it. Chances are if you're a Voice user you've already transitioned to using Hangouts for your text messages and maybe even VOIP calls — once you move to Fi, this is the go-to way to use your Fi number on every platform.

You can send and receive calls, SMS, MMS and check voicemail on any Android or iOS phone via their Hangouts apps, as well as using the Hangouts Chrome app on Windows and OS X. As we said, if you're already using Hangouts in this way on Google Voice, there will be minimal transition time — you'll just notice that when you send a text or make a call it will say "from my Project Fi number" in the app instead of "... Google Voice number." The only change will be if you still used the old Google Voice website and app — they no longer work for calls, texts or voicemails after moving to Fi.

The cross-platform experience is all about Hangouts ... except when you're using your Project Fi Nexus 6.

Funnily enough, the only confusing part about this system is that when you're using your Nexus 6, actually on the Project Fi network, you're not required to use Hangouts for text messaging or calls. Because your Fi number is first and foremost tied to that SIM, you can use the standard Phone dialer and Google Messenger apps to natively make and receive calls and texts. Of course you can choose to use the Hangouts app anyway for messaging — it has its benefits in terms of unifying message threads — if you prefer, but it's not required when you're on your Fi phone. The big exception here is with MMS group messaging — that feature is only supported in the Google Messenger app at this time (annoying, but at least it's available now).

Calls you make through the standard Phone dialer on your Project Fi Nexus 6 will all be made with your Fi number, of course, and because you have unlimited calling included in the "Fi basics" portion of your plan you don't have to worry about minutes. The stock Phone dialer will also make calls over Wifi when possible — offering much higher quality and versatility in poor signal areas — which is a major selling point of the Fi service.

What about international calling?

Project Fi international settings

Though Project Fi lets you use your data internationally in 120+ countries at a standard $10 per gigabyte rate, you don't get unlimited international calling. Just like other carriers, you'll still pay per minute for calls on cell networks abroad — at a rate of $0.20 per minute no matter where you call. But if you choose to call on Wifi (again just using the Phone dialer), you'll get the benefit of being able to call back home to U.S. numbers for free, and international numbers for much lower rates, usually under $0.10 per minute. (You can also turn off the ability to call internationally in the Project Fi app if you're worried about accidentally running up charges.)

When traveling abroad it may be worth using Hangouts Dialer for calls to get the best rates.

But when traveling internationally it may still be worth installing the Hangouts Dialer app (opens in new tab), which will let you make those free calls to the U.S. and cheap calls elsewhere even when you're not on Wifi, because you're using VOIP instead of the roaming cell networks. That's the case no matter what phone you're using, and it doesn't require fast data speeds, either. If you plan to make a lot of calls internationally and don't want to find Wifi every time you dial, this will be the way to go.

Jumping between the Phone dialer and Hangouts to make calls when you're international is a bit of a pain, and unfortunately isn't as simple as the roaming data experience. But the good thing is none of that jumping around is required when you're back in the U.S., and it's simply recommended when abroad to save some money on calling rates.

Really, it's not all that complicated

Project Fi billing

Here's the big thing — if you never used Google Voice prior to signing up for Fi, or you chose to start fresh with a new Fi number and not port from Google Voice, you won't know what you're missing. You get online voicemail, texting and VOIP calling from all of your devices using one number in the Hangouts app, and chances are you don't care about the advanced features that in the end just make the experience more confusing.

There's nothing here that's going to make you run back to Google Voice, particularly since the details are all here for your understanding before you are presented with the choice to stick with Voice or move to Project Fi. And while the international features could be clearer, they're no worse than what you experience on any other carrier today. There are plenty of great things about Project Fi that make the transition worth it.

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

51 Comments
  • Looks like a lot of hassle of switching back and forth between apps to do one and the same thing.
    T-Mobile is still king on International roaming especially due to the unlimited free data and unlimited text messages without WiFi.
  • As I said in the conclusion, there's not really that much hassle. If you only need the basic features of call forwarding and cross-device calls/voicemail/text, you don't even have to use the Google Voice website. That's really only for those who are porting from Voice and are accustomed to those features.
  • I need the roaming data passes. 256Kbps international data is obviously better than T-Mobile USA's 128Kbps (I know some say they get 3G speeds, I never have, always throttled) but until I can buy 1GB or 10GB pack for 3G roaming in Japan, Germany, or wherever, I can't switch. So close to perfect for my needs, yet so far!
  • I don't see the issue? If you're okay with 3G, then what's wrong with Project Fi's 256kbps at $10 per GB anywhere in its 120 supported countries?
  • You dont need wifi to use Project Fi internationally. Actually its Project Fi thats the king for international because it works exactly the same as Tmobile but Project Fi speed is double the Tmobile (256 vs 128)
  • Those things are the same with Project FI, and if you're using T Mobile I would recommend using the Hangouts dialer still.
  • Obi devices still work with project fi. I'm using my obi 202 with my project fi number right now, works exactly as it did with Google voice.
  • Did you have to make any adjustments to the oni device? I can't find anyone else posting that their obi devices continue to work after the switch
  • I didn't do anything special at all. With google voice on the obi all you do is login to your google account. I know they said it would no longer work, but it works perfectly fine for me. I too have had trouble finding others in my situation, but I swear it works. For me I mostly used the obi with gv because I only had 100 minutes a month on my cell phone, with fi that was no longer a worry, so the fact that it still works is just a bonus.
  • re: those 100 minutes
    If you use a VPN and connect to a fast server in a nearby country (say, Canada), T-Mobile Wi-Fi calling via Wi-Fi is free and unlimited.
  • Wi-Fi calling isn't available on the 30 dollar prepaid plan to my knowledge. If I have Wi-Fi available there are already easier options like hangouts available for free calling. Doesn't matter anyway, moved on to project fi and I'm quite pleased.
  • Awesome to hear, thanks for the response. Was on the fence because I like the ability to use the obi at home or anywhere I wish to take it but now may make the jump.
  • How does it work with fi? Currently I am using google voice with obi and it works fine. What does fi has to do with obi? Can you please educate me.
  • It works the way it always did. It was said, or assumed, that switching your voice number to fi would break obi support, so far this doesn't seem to be the case. Maybe down the road things could change, but as of now my obi rings just like it always did.
  • I had a weird experience trying to use the standard Google Messaging app on my Nexus 6 on Fi.
    If I just set it as the default texting app, it still sent messages to Hangouts but didn't give me a notification. If I switched off the recieve texts option in Hangouts it was (seemingly) universal and turned that option off on my laptop and other phones. So I can either use the Google Messenger app and only get texts on my N6 and nowhere else or have it in Hangouts everywhere.
    Do you have any experience of this happening to you at all Andrew?
  • That sounds about right. If you set a default messaging app on your phone to be Google Messenger, that doesn't mean that Hangouts can't also read the messages when they hit your phone, it just means you won't be notified on the non-default app. When you receive a message in Google Messenger it isn't automatically synced up with the Hangouts system, though — you still need to have "SMS" turned on in Hangouts if you plan to check/respond to messages on different devices using your Fi number. The user-unfriendly implementation here just gives you a peek behind the curtain so you can clearly see that this is still very much the old Google Voice system just enhanced and changed from a front-end perspective. Things are still a little messy, but I still stand by the point that if you just use it normally and don't tinker much, things aren't broken — you just notice these odd things when you try to mess with things (as we all tend to do). I'm personally continuing to use the Hangouts app because I also do a lot of non-SMS messaging that I want to keep up on in the same app. It just makes the most sense to me, and I don't have any issues.
  • I tried using Hangouts SMS integration and ended up breaking SMS on my N6 - wouldn't get SMS/MMS from third party SMS app (Textra) OR the Messenger app until I turned off integration. A couple of chat sessions with Fi and we figured that I can't use SMS integration with Hangouts at the moment, which sucks, but I'll have to just wait until they fix it. Just using pushbullet for now, but it's not a 1 for 1 replacement for Voice. Do we still get voice to text transcription on voicemail? I don't get a lot of vms so I haven't seen it yet...
  • Yes, there seems to be an issue with SMS + Project Fi + Hangouts
  • Seems like lots of people are having issues with the transition. I personally haven't had any issues doing SMS in Hangouts, but I've been doing it for several months already as a Google Voice user.
  • Just checked my invite status and its saying at least 12 weeks - guess I can stop reading articles like this for the next 3 months or so.
  • Well there's no downside to learning before you get your invite... Also, thankfully the articles don't self-destruct — you'll be able to come read 'em at any time ;-)
  • You have a lot of "how to" here, might as well make a How To Use Project Fi now
  • HEADS UP, I had a 12+ weeks message the day this article came out, and I signed up for Fi today.
  • Can you use Google voice callback with Project Fi?
  • Not sure... but I'm guessing they don't plan on supporting it considering they've already killed off 3rd party app support for Google Voice and have said they're killing off the use of third-party hardware devices that use Google Voice. If you want free calls on Voice, you can just use the Hangouts app and make VOIP calls... what specifically are you looking to use callback for?
  • I currently use Voice+ to provide callback support. I use it at home and work to prevent callers from getting either number or real cel #. I also like the fact that I can record incoming calls after using the callback feature.
  • I just really hope that Google Voice as it now stands doesn't disappear. I use it as the voicemail for my Verizon Wireless phone number, and for texting I use MySMS. Don't want to have to deal with Google Hangouts.
  • Yep, similar. I forward missed/ignored calls on my Verizon number to my Google Voice number, and then allow Hangouts to manage SMS and voicemail of my Google Voice number. If they get rid of Google Voice all together, I lose what's essentially free visual voicemail for my Verizon line.
  • Sounds like I'll have to set it up as a whole new number, but that doesn't seem like a good idea, I have no need. The only thing I use Google voice for is VM and I've found that I get a lot of spam phone calls on that number for some reason. If I lose that filtering feature, what a head ache! I also still have an AT&T "unlimited data" plan, so there's that hurdle too. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Well all you'd do in that case is port your AT&T number into Project Fi. You'll lose the Google Voice number you were using for voicemail, but that doesn't matter since you get all of the features in terms of voicemail but its just all one number now. Leaving the AT&T unlimited plan is another thing — that'll be up to you if its worth it.
  • Currently I am with Sprint, using Google Voice integration, and I use Hangouts instead of the Voice app (I like all of my messages in one app). So moving to Project Fi would be completely seemless to me, correct?
  • Probably for the most part. I was on T-Mobile and only with the aid of an app do I know when I am on a different network. Voice coverage is better for me though. And speeds aren't throttled either. Posted via the Android Central App
  • In terms of your phone calls and number, yes there'll be no change. In terms of service, it should only get better considering you have both Sprint and T-Mobile on hand.
  • 256kbps is fast enough for Hangouts dialer for decent VOIP?
  • Way more than required for VOIP. I made perfectly clear calls even on T-Mobile's free EDGE service internationally, and that's dramatically slower.
  • Like I mentioned in the forums, I would have utilized my invite already if I was able to use two numbers on one phone as I do with my current set up (AT&T number and GV number).
  • I have/had a Google Voice number, just never understood the to do over it, I mean I just use my regular cell number, I can have my home number foward calls if I so wish, and which I don't. Maybe its just a novelity for some to play around with, and thats OK. If I was to go to Fi, I'd probably just use my GV number if its still active.
    Second is text messages, all I need and want it the simple stock Android texting app. Not hangouts, not plus. I don't need a run around just to send and answer a simple text.
  • Think you're overthinking this. You don't need to take on any of the advanced features or call forwarding or anything if you don't want to. Just port your carrier number into FI, just like you would moving to any other carrier. Use the built-in Phone dialer and Messenger apps and it'll work just like you're used to.
  • So far so good for me. Been using Fi nonstop for a week and it's worked for me as well, if not better, than any other carrier... And I've used each of the big 4. Just can't wait for a smaller phone option. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Same here. Love the Nexus, but it is a bit large. Used to it, but every time I pick up my 2014 X, with leather I just wish I could keep using it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • When I tried Hangouts as a replacement for Google Voice, I quickly switched back for a single reason: in voice, I could search in my contacts by starting to type a name. In Hangouts the same activity searched everyone who has a profile, not my contacts, so it was basically useless -- who texts random people around the world, other than spammers? Does anyone know if that is still a "feature" of Hangouts?
  • When searching for contacts, it prioritizes contacts on your phone and lists them above the world search.
  • I guess the term "advanced features" is subjective. I use most of those and I don't consider myself a Google Voice power user.
  • Scariest thing for me: what happens to my Google Voice setup if I decide to leave Project Fi. If I switch to another carrier, can I still send texts and place calls through hangouts from my formerly Google Voice now Project Fi number?
  • Google says you can go back to Google Voice from Project Fi if you no longer want to use the service. We haven't tested the process just yet though.
  • I picked up a Nexus 9 tablet with LTE the other day. Now I'm waiting for my Project Fi invite - supposedly any day now. However it occurred to me that my new tablet has a SIM card slot (I'm used to only WIFI tablets). I've scoured the interwebs for an answer, to no avail - do you guys think Project Fi will possibly support their other flagship with LTE radios - the Nexus 9 LTE...?
  • Just got off the horn with the Project Fi folks and here's their e-mailed answer to my question above:
    ------------------------------
    Thank you for contacting Project Fi Support! I am happy to address your question about the Nexus 9. I know it can be frustrating to only have a single device you can use on a service. We do not currently support any device on Project Fi except the Nexus 6. We do expect to eventually open the service up for additional data devices, such as the Nexus 9, but that capability is not currently available. Thanks!
    Justin
    The Project Fi Support Team
    --------------------------------- They also mentioned that the invites do not expire so it would behove those of us wanting to use a nexus 9 LTE to hold on to those invites!
  • If it was just a backup phone or used infrequently because of travel, couldn't you get another Google account and Google Voice/Project Fi # for it. I know its not supposed to happen but not that hard. Then forward your GV# to Fi# when using that device but turn off forwarding the when not and use GV# for texting from hangouts, etc. Probably a kind of kooky workaround that would present certain limitations but I could see this for people who want to pause Fi often.
  • I think this is one of the most important info for me. And i’m glad reading your article.
  • Google voice will not forward calls to a project FI number. I'm a google voice user who is now a FI user and I'm screwed. There should be a big warning for voice users when signing up for FI. the right way to do it is open an incognito window, create a new gmail account, and sign up from there. Otherwise they give you a choice to discard your voice # or attach it to your new phone. It will be married to that phone's sim card and to change it means getting a new sim. I'm in the process of doing this now. Unfortunately since FI phones won't recieve forwarded calls from voice, you'll have to sign up for a competing call forwarding service and transfer your voice numbers there. Any recommendations for a competing service? thanks - Tim
  • https://support.google.com/fi/answer/6246240?hl=en excellent project Fi tech support article that clearly states in detail how Gvoice gets sick when you sign up for Fi