(See update @ bottom)
Well, this did not take long. I’ve just speculated that Google & Sprint wanted testers before the commercial rollout of the Android-driven HTC EVO on June 4th – a few hours later I see that theory proven. I ran into trouble setting up Google Voice, and called the special number given to Google I/O attendees. Apparently it’s a “discovery period” customer support group, and the rep I talked to was very (unusually!) courteous and helpful – at least she tried to, within the limits of information available to her. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Here’s the skinny:
I’m in the somewhat rare situation of being able to compare the HTC Incredible on Verizon and the EVO on Sprint, released a month apart, with essentially the same setup, same software releases. Here’s part of the Google Voice configuration screen on both:
And yes, the shocking discovery: it appears that Sprint limits using Google Voice to international calls only. Let me rephrase that: other parts (e.g. voicemail, transcription..etc) of the Google Voice service will still work, but if you can’t initiate calls using your GV number, than guess what, the other party will see your Sprint mobile number, that’s where they will call you back…etc – in other words the key concept of “One number to show”, which is what Google Voice integration is all about, is dead.
The Sprint rep told me she hoped it was a software glitch that would soon be updated, but frankly, the different wording suggests otherwise. I’m afraid it’s a business decision by Sprint, and one that should be made very, very public. Full Google Voice integration happens to be a key decision-making factor when switching to Android, for yours truly, forTechCrunch’s Mike Arrington and likely many others. Not having it could prove to be a show stopper.
I hope it’s not final – Sprint, Google, HTC, whoever – please chime in here. We need answers.
Update: The short answer, and it’s a good one, it’s not Sprint policy, just an installation glitch. Details:
All of a sudden I remembered that a few weeks ago when I set up Google Voice on the HTC Incredible with Verizon, it refused the accept my existing Google Voice number, so I tricked it: went ahead with the route of setting up a new number, but input y existing Google Voice number, then it worked.
I suppose something got fixed since then, as the Sprint EVO allowed me to link up with the existing GV account, albeit with the limitation shown above… so I started to wonder if I should try the same trick here. I deleted the Sprint cell number from Google Voice, signed out on the EVO and even deleted the entire Google Voice app (probably an unnecessarily step, but who knows…). Then I proceeded with the “new number” setup, but of course using the existing account information. Got into a couple of loops with error messages, nevertheless following all prompts both on the mobile and the GV web side finally resulted in the perfect Google Voice installation, with identical results to the Incredible version (the phone shown on the left). I’m a happy Google Voice user again.