Number porting - the ability to transfer a phone number from one service to another - is coming to Google Voice. That's a major development for the online phone service, opening the doors for people who have longed to dump their landline phones for a mobile-only lifestyle but don't want to give up that precious home phone number.
The ability to port may or may not be in your Google Voice settings now. Google confirmed to Techcrunch that the service is being tested and isn't quite ready for mainstream adoption yet. I've been a longtime Google Voice user and really could have used this service a couple of years ago when I really wanted to keep a mobile phone number that I ended up having to change. Still, it's sure to lure some folks into the service.
It's also important to note that porting could affect the account you're porting from - so watch out for any early termination fees before you do this.
I know it's important to build the service with new members. But here's another thought - how about adding some real-life features into Google Voice for those who are on the subscriber list today and really could use some more freedom? Specifically, I'm asking for the ability to transfer multiple Google Voice numbers to a single mobile phone.
I have two Google Voice numbers (activated through two separate Google accounts) - one is a personal number and the other is my "work" number. I have that work number set to ring my office number and my home office so that I can be found in either place. But I can't set it to ring my mobile phone because the other number is already ringing on that line.
What if I was expecting a call on my work line but needed to step away from my desk for an hour or two and wanted that work line to ring my mobile? What if my wife wanted to ring her GV number to my mobile phone so she wouldn't have to take her phone when we head out for an afternoon of shopping? Or what if a friend came for a weekend visit but received lousy reception at my home and wanted to transfer his GV number to my mobile?
The service is already set-up so that you can do this with landline phones - just not mobile.
Also, as long as I'm building a wish list here, how about the ability to merge accounts so that voicemails for multiple lines show up in a single inbox? Right now, my personal GV number is tied to my personal Google account but my work GV number goes into another Google account, which I don't access as often. Whenever I need to check a message, I have to log into that account.
I realize that the purpose of Google Voice is "One Number for Life" but real-life doesn't operate with one single number. I certainly want friends and family to be able to reach me any time of day or night. But the same doesn't go for work-related calls - I certainly don't want my phone ringing at 5 a.m. because someone on the east coast forgot about the time difference. (It's happened.)
Certainly, I'm not complaining about Google Voice. These are just some updates that I would suggest - but overall, the service is already pretty convenient. And number porting will make it that much more enticing.
I'm just happy that Google is still tinkering with Google Voice to make it even better.