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Author Topic: Google Voice back as Approved Service Provider!?  (Read 135373 times)
AntonS
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« on: August 14, 2014, 06:54:50 pm »

See https://www.obitalk.com/obinet/pg/services/spoptions. Don't know what this means: Did Obihai make an agreement with Google or did they find a way to use the Hangout way of calling.
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Alyson
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« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2014, 06:58:28 pm »

I notice that the other day.  I have not heard anything from the folks at OBI.  Hopefully they will have announcement soon.
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ceg3
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2014, 07:29:25 pm »

I think it means something, but Obihai does not communicate with us much. When I noticed this a couple weeks ago when I updated to the latest firmware, the response I got from Obiahi is that GV is working with an OBi for now.  I still think it's interesting GV is no longer just a footnote at the bottom of the page.
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screenio
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« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2014, 11:44:16 am »

Not only does it appear to be approved, but they have announced an entirely new product OBi1032 that handles Google Voice.

This after sending everyone scurrying to find another (paid) service provider, which none of us wanted to do.
It was a major pain in the ass.

They were fast and furious with the emails warning us off of Google Voice, but not a word about the re-reinstatement of Google Voice.  OBI has removed any mention of the demise of Google Voice from their website.
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Usetheforceobiwan
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« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2014, 01:15:24 pm »

"Alright now, watch the pendulum now...back and forth...back and forth...you are getting really sleepy....yes, you are very tired now.........Google Voice was never going to go away.....yes, Google Voice was never going to go away......Ok, on the count of three, you will wake up and not remember anything about Google Voice going away....1,2...3"   Grin
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Ostracus
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« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2014, 05:38:05 pm »

Not only does it appear to be approved, but they have announced an entirely new product OBi1032 that handles Google Voice.

This after sending everyone scurrying to find another (paid) service provider, which none of us wanted to do.
It was a major pain in the ass.

They were fast and furious with the emails warning us off of Google Voice, but not a word about the re-reinstatement of Google Voice.  OBI has removed any mention of the demise of Google Voice from their website.


You think that's something, the aliens are the other thing. ...they did tell you about the aliens, right?
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Usetheforceobiwan
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« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2014, 07:16:21 pm »


OBI has removed any mention of the demise of Google Voice from their website.


This is what is truly scary about an all electronic  I.e no paper digital world.  If the stuff is erased it only exists in your mind and even your memory can get a little fuzzy with time and age.  While its good for the owner of the content, its bad for those who refer to it or later need access to it.
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gderf
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« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2014, 07:39:02 pm »

The Wayback Machine has 148 snapshots of the site.

https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.obihai.com/
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Help me OBiHai PhoneOBi. You’re my only hope.
SteveInWA
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« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2014, 09:48:19 pm »

Hello y'all...

I abandoned the forum months ago, after it generally descended into endless speculation, conspiracy theories, and mis-information, and above all, obnoxious behavior by a few people in posts about Google Voice.  I resisted returning here, but given that a new frenzy of speculation has been whipped up, let me try to offer you the most current, accurate information you will get, other than from an employee of Obihai or Google.

I realize that Obihai and Google are largely responsible for fueling this behavior.  I have only read a couple of posts here lately that even come close to being accurate, and so I have returned to provide some credible information.

Why should you believe me?  I am the leading "Top Contributor" on the Google Voice Forum, with over 17 thousand posts.  I am part of a Google-sponsored program that helps volunteers like me help the Google user community.  We have access to certain engineering and technical staff at Google, and we have signed non-disclosure agreements that limit what we can say.  Google employees, in general, are forbidden to discuss future plans.  There are valid reasons for this, not only for competitive business reasons, but due to certain restrictions placed on public corporations by the SEC and other Federal regulators.  This is why you will never get a direct answer from anyone at Google about anything that hasn't already been announced.

Now, that said, I am willing to stretch my NDA to the limit, in the interest of clearing this up.  

Google Voice, by itself, has no VoIP client capability.  It never had it, and it still doesn't have it, as of today.  From the user (client) perspective, GV is only a PSTN telephone call forwarding and message management system.  GV used its companion service, Google Chat, as the VoIP client, using XMPP as the signaling protocol.  As you all have discovered by now, Google told various third-party software and hardware vendors that direct access to Google Chat and its XMPP protocol was going to be shut down, and it would not be available for use after May 15th.  Around April 15th, I personally confirmed, directly with Google employees, that the shut-down was on track for May 15th.  At some point between those two dates, Google postponed the shut-down, for undisclosed reasons.  I can't discuss the "why" reason behind that decision.  It is completely pointless to speculate on why it was postponed; there is nothing nefarious to read into it, and let me make it very clear that there was no lying, sneaky, malicious intent by either Google or by Obihai in making that announcement, nor in Obihai doing the responsible thing by encouraging its customers to move onto a SIP ITSP instead of GV.  There were several issues:  in particular, one was the security exposure discussed in (intentionally) vague terms by Google, and the other was the impending demise of Chat, to be superseded by Hangouts.

So, since then, users have continued to use GV, emulating a Google Chat client over XMPP, and Obihai published the most forthright statement they could, acknowledging that the date came and went, for some reason, unknown to Obihai, but the recommendation still stood, to select an alternative provider.  Why did Obihai say this?  Because a) they didn't know why the date came and went, and b) they rightly believed that this was a temporary situation, and c) they didn't want to hitch their future solely on GV support.

Meanwhile, Obihai continued to explore and develop alternative ways to make use of Google services.  Again, I am under a confidentiality agreement with Obihai, and I can't disclose further details.  However, in parallel with the development of the new OBi 1032 IP phone, Obihai updated the firmware on the phone, and on the 1xx and 2xx ATA products, to change the method used to authenticate to a user's Google account.  This was the "security concern" described by Google.  The old method, as you will recall, actually required the user to enter their Google user name and password on the OBiTALK portal, or on their device, to log into Google Chat.  The new method recently pushed out by Obihai uses a more secure, published and approved protocol known as OAUTH 2.0.  This is the same method used when you go to some third-party website, that offers to "sign in using your Google account", and it is similar to the method used by Facebook and by Microsoft, to give controlled access, with a user's permission, to defined information.  OAUTH never gives the third party your Google user ID or password.  Instead, you log into your own Google account directly, and then the third party requests permission to access defined information on your Google account.  You give permission to Google directly, which then exchanges "access tokens" with the third party.  This is the pop-up window you will now see when you add GV as a service provider.  Look for "OAUTH" in the URL string.  You can confirm that your device has been updated, by listening for a female, vs. male, "auto attendant" voice.

Here is the official announcement by Google, that support for direct client login to a Google user's account is deprecated:  https://developers.google.com/accounts/docs/AuthForInstalledApps

The replacement for direct client login is OAUTH 2.0 authentication, which Obihai has now implemented in its devices.

Note that there is absolutely no such thing as a Google-administered "Approved Service Provider" program for GV.  Google has merely published certain APIs for authentication (OAUTH 2.0) and communication (XMPP), and Obihai is making use of them.  Google has no objection to Obihai using their service, as long as the current authentication method is used, and, in fact, several Googlers have posted their positive comments on Google+.  Just make your own informed decision to use, or don't use, the service.

Google is working hard to combine the user interfaces and functions of the Google Voice and Google Hangouts services.  Google Voice is not going away.  Google has recently made a significant financial investment in adding more DID numbers to the service, and in improving its ability to port in other numbers, and it is actively fixing bugs and improving the reliability of the service.  I have been personally involved with Google staff in identifying and squashing bugs and rapidly solving user issues that used to go on for months or even years, and this has convinced me that Google remains committed to Voice.  Google is also working hard to remove confusion and redundancy in the two services, Voice and Hangouts.  Recent improvements to GV have begun to better-integrate Hangouts into the GV user interface.  One example is adding Hangouts as a selection when making calls from GV.  Another is the recent implementation of WebRTC Hangouts calling on Chrome Browser, eliminating the need for the XMPP plugin.  Over time, you will see more integration of the two services.

It is also important to understand that Obihai is not the one-trick pony you may have seen when you bought a magic Google Voice OBi 1xx box for hobbyist or DIY use.  It is now wisely investing in products and services for the SIP ITSP and business PBX market.  The OBi IP phone is a perfect example of this.  It is not intended to be a consumer-level GV Phone.  It is not some DIY hacker project device.  You, the typical Obi forum inhabitant, are not the target market for this product, and most of the opinions I've read about it on this forum, so far, have been off-the-mark.   It's a business-class product, mainly targeted at system integrators, resellers, and large office deployments.  Its feature set and price align closely with comparable (not entry-level) products from Cisco and Avaya, and it is not comparable to the simpler, less-sophisticated SOHO products from the Chinese vendors.  I have been beta testing the phone for weeks now, and I believe it is a strong competitor and a very well-engineered product.  It combines the full feature set of a OBi 202 with all the capabilities of a high-end business IP PBX-connected phone.

Finally, here is my personal prediction, based on what I know, and limited by what I can disclose:  Obihai knows that GV interoperability is a powerful selling point.  They are working (using the proper API framework, not as hackers) on adapting to the changes with GV and Hangouts that I just described.  Eventually, I am optimistic that you will see a clearer answer, and a fuller, more future-proof set of Google-related services from Obihai.

I hope this helps.  I am not interested in troll-battles, and I will vanish again if the discussion degenerates.  As always, if you have GV-specific problems or questions, we're happy to help over on the Google Voice Forum, however, none of us will comment on whether or not a product, service or specific feature will or will not change.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2015, 10:05:52 pm by SteveInWA » Logged

Taoman
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« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2014, 10:47:26 pm »

Thanks for the update.

Quote from: SteveInWA
Note that there is absolutely no such thing as "Approved Service Provider" status for GV.  Any implication that Google has explicitly "approved" of Google Chat or Hangouts client use on OBi devices is unfounded and meaningless.  

That may be true but I seriously doubt Obihai would have added Google Voice back as an "Approved Service Provider" and included/supported it in their brand new IP phone without some kind of assurance from Google that convinced Obihai that Google Voice would continue to function with their ATAs/IP Phones as is (or with firmware updates) for the foreseeable future.


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SteveInWA
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« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2014, 11:30:10 pm »

Thanks, but you're missing the points I made.  I can't disclose any further details, but calling Google Voice an "approved service provider" is a meaningless marketing buzzword.  Obihai was using that term to describe its business arrangements (joint marketing and automated provisioning) for a few SIP ITSPs like Anveo and Phone Power.  They're being sloppy (intentionally or unintentionally) by lumping GV into that bucket.  Google Voice is not a service provider, in the same sense as the ITSPs in Obihai's program.  I really don't see the point in all this endless speculation on what Obihai and Google may or may not mean by their ambiguous statements or lack of statements.  At least, when people hung on every word that Alan Greenspan spoke, there were big bucks involved.

It's like the word "natural" in food marketing.  Imagine if Snoop Dawg Lion said that Chivas Regal is his approved beverage of choice after smoking a blunt, and Lil' Wayne chimed in to say that he prefers Robitussin.  So what?  Chivas and Robitussin don't "approve" of them saying that, and it doesn't mean anything.  It's misleading.  Here is how I believe it should be interpreted:  "As of today, you can use Google Voice via Chat on your OBi device, as one of your configured service providers, and we "Approve" of you doing that.  It might not work tomorrow, but we'll keep working on it."

As I mentioned, the new OBi IP phone is a high-end, business-targeted product.  Yes, you can use GV on it if you wish.  Most mid-to-large size business customers won't be that foolish.  Google Voice is a very bad choice for business use, and business use is specifically discouraged by Google.  There is no direct customer support for GV, no service level guarantees, as there is for Gmail and the other Google Apps, and there is a major business risk to customer satisfaction or business reputation, when the phones don't work and nobody can reach the business.  Again, Altria "approves" of you buying its beer, wine and cigarette brands, but it isn't necessarily a wise thing for the purchaser.

Here is the most important point:  just use it or don't use it, as you wish, and don't try to read anything into the changed GV language on the website.  Nobody is going to get in trouble with Google for using the service on their OBi devices, and Obihai has correctly addressed the prior security exposure.  Perhaps Obihai and Google had some confidential discussion on how to resolve the security issue, or perhaps not.  You will never know, and you can't imply anything about any future availability.

Neither company will be liable if it stops working.  There is no guarantee expressed, nor implied.  Remember, if lawyers got involved, vs. salespeople, they'd point out the concept of "no implied warranty of merchantability or fitness of purpose."

So, enjoy it while it's here, if it meets your needs.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2014, 04:12:42 pm by SteveInWA » Logged

cluckercreek
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« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2014, 06:24:14 am »

I appreciate the info SteveInWA!  BTW, welcome back.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2014, 06:43:28 am by cluckercreek » Logged
dircom
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« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2014, 07:31:04 am »

Most of the senseless area 51 type talk has been posted by people with 1-10 posts.
I'm glad I got a paid provider.  GV was never going to be good enough for my wife.  I ported my home # to a VOIP provider.  I still enjoy GV for 2nd lines, and #'s in other states.  I will enjoy GV for as long as it lasts.  Hard to believe people get so stirred up by a free service.  And even though Obihai is not the best at communicating (I know, an understatement), the product is so good, and so inexpensive, that I can overlook "not knowing" all the details; however this doesn't mean I don't wish they would communicate better i.e., changelogs, etc. (but I'm not holding my breath for that to happen)
« Last Edit: August 19, 2014, 07:34:00 am by dircom » Logged
cluckercreek
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« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2014, 07:49:41 am »

Most of the senseless area 51 type talk has been posted by people with 1-10 posts.
I'm glad I got a paid provider.  GV was never going to be good enough for my wife.  I ported my home # to a VOIP provider.  I still enjoy GV for 2nd lines, and #'s in other states.  I will enjoy GV for as long as it lasts.  Hard to believe people get so stirred up by a free service.  And even though Obihai is not the best at communicating (I know, an understatement), the product is so good, and so inexpensive, that I can overlook "not knowing" all the details; however this doesn't mean I don't wish they would communicate better i.e., changelogs, etc. (but I'm not holding my breath for that to happen)

Ditto! I'm doing the same as you but have also added Ring.to to the mix. Always, always have backups.
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billsimon
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Posts: 47


« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2014, 10:25:03 am »

SteveInWA / Bluescat: thank you. This is clarifying information that a lot of folks, for various reasons, really wanted to understand. Why it needs to be relayed to us by a third-party volunteer and not from the "official" channels is really beyond me, but you've done what you could to explain that also. Would you kindly post this information in the Google Voice product forum as well? Every post in there with the term "XMPP" has been shunted off to a null message or a simple explanation that is not answering anyone's questions. The post you have written above answers everything.
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SteveInWA
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« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2014, 04:09:03 pm »

Thanks for the feedback!

Bill, I understand your concern with regard to the GV forum.  I've documented this privately for my fellow Top Contributors and the Google staff, however, since this is a Obihai-specific issue, and Google has not, and will not comment in public about the status or future plans for XMPP support, we need to continue to direct those questions over here.

"Executive summary" or "Reader's Digest" version of my very wordy post:

  • OBi device emulation of a Google Chat XMPP client has never been "approved" nor officially supported by Google, and it still isn't.
  • Google did plan to shut down XMPP access, and thus notified third parties.  For undisclosed reasons, this shutdown was postponed.  You cannot infer or deduce anything significant from this postponement.
  • One of Google's stated concerns with third party use was the insecure method of authenticating a user to the service.
  • Obihai has now updated their device firmware to use Google's more secure OAUTH 2.0 access token method.
  • This eliminates the previous security concern, but as of today, it is separate from, and has not changed Obihai's use of XMPP as the actual Chat client protocol.
  • You are welcome to continue using GV on your OBi device, as long as it still works.
  • There is no guarantee, nor expectation that XMPP will continue to be supported in the future, and any recent change to the Obihai website, or the implementation of OAUTH authentication, is no indication of continued support.
  • There was no sneaky trickery behind any of this; Obihai wants to sell devices, not to manipulate its customers onto or off of GV.
  • There is no further information available, and nobody at Google will answer any questions about this.  Anything you may read from third party blogs, etc. will be unreliable speculation.
  • Hang on for the ride, and enjoy your Obi products!
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carl
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« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2014, 06:36:05 pm »

It is good to know that Google is working on the reliability issues- they were real, whether I used GV as intended ( PSTN call treatment/switch) or as a phone service.
BTW in my experience a lot of businesses used extensively GV for outgoing calls.
For my part, I am done with GV  and can hardly understand all that excitement.
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ceg3
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Posts: 366


« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2014, 07:46:44 pm »

Ultimately moving GV to a backup role and signing up with a ITSP has given me better call quality and the things I had not gotten from GV, CNAM for one.  Now that MWI is also gone from GV I have another reason to use a SP for my primary line.
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SteveInWA
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Posts: 3977



« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2014, 05:23:06 pm »

Yes, despite my extensive involvement with Google Voice, I don't use it at all as a service provider on my OBi devices, other than for testing and support purposes.  If users are only interested in free calling, then it's there to use.

Personally, I forward inbound calls from GV to a Callcentric DID, and make outbound calls via Callcentric or Localphone, and I've found that to be the best combination of features, performance and cost for me.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2014, 07:08:07 pm by SteveInWA » Logged

Usetheforceobiwan
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« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2014, 07:06:21 pm »

Personally, forward calls from GV to a Callcentric DID, and make outbound calls via Callcentric or Localphone, and I've found that to be the best combination of features, performance and cost for me.

I think you have alota company with this setup as it has you well covered no matter what happens with XMPP and GV.
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