Google Voice could arrive in Canada next year as it integrates with Hangouts

Over the past few days, Google has disclosed its intentions for many of its once-disparate services as they become more tightly integrated in KitKat.

One such feature is Google Voice, which is currently not available in Canada. Though there have been moments where it appeared that Google was assigning Canadian numbers to a few lucky subscribers, it’s still not possible to officially port a carrier-bought number to GV and move calls and texts easily between phones.

I’ve been using a Google Voice number for years when travelling to then US, and it works quite well. I’ve also been able to forward calls and texts to my Canadian number and receive without issue on my Android phone. But the idea of a carrier-independent service that moves easily between platforms and devices is still out of reach for most Canadians. Fongo, Vonage, TextPlus and others offer services that come close, but don’t quite match, the ideal.

In a Google+ post last week, Nikhyl Singhal outlined the future of Google Voice, and it’s looking good for Canadians. He said that while GV isn’t currently integrated into Hangouts, it will be added by the end of the year or early next year.

More important, he said, “We hear you loud and clear: you want Google Voice phone numbers outside the US and to support MMS. We are listening and working hard to make this happen, but we need to work with carriers and this can take some time.” Canada should be the first country to receive Google Voice expansion, as we can already make free calls to US and Canadian-based phone numbers from the web and iOS Hangouts.

Rogers recently announced an expansion of its One Number service to iOS and Android phones, but Google Voice would really be the nail in the proverbial coffin for carrier-mandated voice and text plans.

Finally, Google is shutting down all third-party Google Voice apps by May 15, 2014, making it impossible for users to access the service on Windows Phone, BlackBerry, or anywhere Google doesn’t fully support.