It’s not just the location information. In order to set up Google Voice, it will need a USA phone number.
I suppose if you were in the US, you could get a temporary SIM card for the US and use that to set it up. Obviously it would stop forwarding to that phone number after awhile when the SIM access expired, but I think you can keep using Google Voice without a real phone number attached… but for the initial setup I’m pretty sure that you do need a US phone number.
I have a Google Voice number that I use for most people, and think it’s handy, but given that you can do iMessages from your Mac, I’m not sure it’s that much better to be able to do it in email.
I have no idea what Google gets out of it. TBH, I’m surprised that they haven’t shut down Google Voice by now.
I suppose they could be compiling some sort of connection between people who call me and me… and they have the recordings of voicemails… but as far as I can tell they aren’t even working on improving the transcripts of the voicemails (it hasn’t gotten noticeably better over time).
Fortunately my life is normal (read: boring) enough that even if my voicemails were released to the public, I can’t imagine anyone being interested or embarrassed. So the risk seems low. I suppose if you’re having an extra-marital affair or running for public office (or both!), you probably shouldn’t use Google Voice.
I’ve had Google Voice since they were GrandCentral.com, before Google bought them in 2009. It’s one of those products which has quietly limped along with very little support, and only occasional updates, with people always wondering if Google was going to kill it off. In fact it seems Google was close to doing that around the time of Google+, when they offered GV users the ability to migrate their VOIP to the Google+ Hangouts technology. (It was a one-way option, with no way to go back, and I think a lot of users besides me declined that invitation.) In 2013 Hangouts was spun off as a separate product, and Google decided to reinvest some more programming talent into supporting and updating the aging GV apps for Android/iOS.
At one point I imagine they found useful the data from GV’s voicemail transcription, but there are other, better ways to get that kind of data today… or they got as much out as they needed already. (“OK Google”)
GV seems to just be a vestigial product that small groups of people (including those inside Google) use and champion, so they just haven’t bothered to pull the plug. I think there might even be some problems with shutting down anyway, since some users (including me) actually ported numbers they owned to GV (for a $20 fee, IIRC), and they’d have to have some sort of plan to extricate themselves from those numbers they are now administering.
I doubt Google would have any qualms about shutting it down, regardless. You might even get your $20 back. I’m just hoping that it never becomes worth whatever hassle it would cause for them to decide it was no longer worth maintaining.
In a different twist, I actually ported my Google Voice number out of Google Voice. It’s now my actual iPhone phone number. Then I got a new, local GV number when we moved to New York.
It’s hard for me to believe, but it has been five years since I was so sure that Google was going to kill off GV that I wrote an article (for TUAW, now Engadget) about porting your number out:
I totally understand the workflow that Michael has, but for me, the unknowing what Google is doing with my private phone conversations will keep me away from Google Voice. For a few dollars or so a month, I can add a second line to my cellphone through my telco.
Now what I would like to see my cell provider do, is more automation similar to Google. A AI assistant to handle basic caller questions would be FANTASTIC for my small business. Much like Michael’s snippets that he uses for answering emails. Which by the way, he saved me a TON-OF-TIME each day when he talked about that.
One ‘nice thing’ about the IOS 13 update is blocking unknown callers. So if I don’t have these folks in my address book, they go straight to voicemail, which has helped some.
I have even considered putting some of my contacts phone numbers in backwards, so they go straight to voicemail…