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Google Voice Fails at Being Your Only Phone Number



Google Voice offers “One Number” to ring all of your phones, and to send text messages to all of your phones.

The free tool is one of my favorite services, but it falls short of being the only number you need to give people.

Currently you can make and receive calls and send and receive text messages, but Google Voice doesn’t support picture or video messages unless you have Sprint.

(Read: Google Voice 101)

Google Voice currently delivers blank messages when you get a picture message, or includes the text from the picture message, but does not send the photo to your phone or put it in your online Google Voice Inbox.

Google voiceWhen I was using Google Voice only for business, the lack of photo messages wasn’t a problem, but now that I have switched my family members and everyone over to Google Voice, it only complicates things.

Instead of using the “One Number” I told them to use when they want to call or text, they have to remember to use a second or third number depending where they want to reach me.

Often I don’t know that messages haven’t come through until long after they were sent. I found out after CES that I missed out on many picture messages, I’m missing out on photos from my dad and just this week I missed out on a picture from my sister which I need to order a replacement battery for her computer.

The lack of picture messaging may be a cost issue, but I would definitely be willing to pay for a premium Google Voice service if that’s what it takes to make picture messaging a part of Google Voice.

Apple’s iMessage service only works between iPhones, iPads and the Mac, but it supports photos and videos for free, so perhaps Google will feel the pressure and add in support for MMS in a future Google Voice update.

What is Google Voice? Check out the video below for an introduction.



  1. steb0ne

    02/28/2012 at 12:03 pm

    I receive pictures ” sometimes” …although I have Sprint and could have something to do with their integration. They are working on having the picture forward to ur email though.

  2. Dzackstein

    02/28/2012 at 4:56 pm

    Given the number of magicJacks being sold is so large, the number of units that have expired is also a relatively large  number.

    A growing wave of these users are starting to take their expired magicJacks and give them a brand new life for use with the free calling services from Google Voice.    

    Google Voice continues to offer users free phone numbers, free long distance calling, free texting and free voice mail in addition to other advanced built in features including but not limited to simultaneous call forwarding to a mobile phone.

    The only thing users need to do is install the GVJack application from and then log into any gmail e-mail account to start placing and receiving calls.  

  3. Walker

    02/28/2012 at 8:17 pm

    What retard uses picture messaging? You lost all credibility with your article because you don’t know how to use your smartphone! Ever heard of email? Yes where you can send pictures and blow them up and save them for download and or retrieval. Go back to your iPhone and stop thinking outside the box.

    • Brian

      02/28/2012 at 10:07 pm

       Wow, that was intelligent.

    • haroonie

      03/03/2012 at 5:14 pm

      What about people that don’t have email on their phones and want to send a picture? More people than you think use MMS and have been using it since before the iPhone. This is a good article that sheds some light on the cons of Google Voice.

    • Tony4loans Tx

      03/26/2012 at 11:19 pm

      The point is that for people the author knows, they may not have experience using a phone for sending attachments by e-mail. Usually, camera apps are helpful to send a recently taken photo by MMS. Yes, I’m sure there’s a menu selection for sending a new photo by e-mail but most of the time it’s a lot easier t send a picture by MMS so most people don’t bother with the e-mail option.

    • Ian Spoon

      07/29/2012 at 12:16 pm

      The problem isn’t sending picture messages, it’s that when someone tries to send YOU a picture message, it SILENTLY fails. This is a huge problem, since even though you might be comfortable sending pictures, people communicating with you might not be.

  4. Wayne Schulz

    02/29/2012 at 4:54 am

    Agreed on this shortcoming – using a third party app like Whatsapp or Groupme seems to be an adequate backup.

  5. Charles2323

    03/04/2012 at 12:38 pm

    what about when your contacts send you mms messages and you never know about it?? you don’t even get an indication that someone tried to send you a picture

  6. Timothy Rodkey

    03/20/2012 at 6:16 am

    Yep. Agree 100%, but they are so close. You might want to check out the app on an android. Does a good job of informing you of messages in your inbox.

  7. Honacvtec

    05/02/2012 at 11:40 am

    in google voice ..the same message gets send to your email ..and you can view pictures and videos i think it makes sense that way…

  8. Scott Ackman

    07/29/2012 at 10:57 am

    I have two google voice numbers. One is for work so they can get ahold of me when necessary and I have it set up so that text messages come through as emails only (so I don’t woken up in the middle of the night by some stupid coworker who wanted to or accidentally texted me).

    My other google voice number is my throw away number. Whenever any web site or any other place “demands” a phone number (try arguing with a web page!), I use this number. It is set up to NEVER ring my phones, EVER. I get emails of any phone messages left for me but even then I get very few of those (the automated sales calls hang up about 99% of the time when they realize they don’t have a live person).

    All in all I think Google Voice is an excellent product for certain circumstances. Would I like to see MMS? Sure but that is a relatively minor thing for me. The benefits far outweigh the very few drawbacks.

  9. bananaomelets

    09/24/2012 at 8:57 am

    Are you serious? This is your complaint about why you can’t have Google voice as your only number? PICTURE messaging? I always thought Picture messaging was a nice fun add-on to an otherwise utilitarian telephone service. It’s like complaining that your phone doesn’t come with a camera and GPS…oh wait, I think people DO complain about that.

    I use Google Voice as my only phone number and I find it awesome. But then again I’m not addicted to gadgets. Google Voice has made my life much easier. My calls are clearer andI’m more likely to respond to text messages and listen to my voicemails because they all come to my email.

    If you’re the kind of person that has Fear Of Missing Out, maybe Google voice isn’t going to work for you. I guess not being in constant contact like you are with a cell phone is a problem for some people. I personally like not being reachable all the time. If someone wants to show me a picture they can email it to me the “old fashioned” way. Honestly most picture messages I’ve received in my life were pretty trivial and missing a few has not ruined my life. The other day, someone asked me to pick them up. Before I left the house, I asked them to describe their specific location and lo and behold, i went there, found them, and picked them up. No need to text in route “Okay, i’m here! Where are you?” It’s not as necessary as you think.

    Additionally, I was always losing my phone, or the battery would die while I was talking and I would have to scramble for the charger. I would feel phantom vibrations in my pocket and I was always worried about missing a call and having to keep one eye on it all the time. I’d end up somewhere without reception and have to have one of those annoying conversations like “can you hear me? Hello? Yeah sorry I lost reception for a minute there, say that again?” Now I’m free of all cell phone related aggravation.

    I considered getting a ground line, but Google voice is free if you already pay for internet so it was kind of a no-brainer.

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