I've written about how I've used the ObiTalk device paired with Google Voice to make free calls throughout the United States. Mac Power Users listener Tyler recently wrote and referred me to a blog post on Obihai's website indicating that effective May 15, 2014 the ObiTalk would no longer work with Google Voice. This is apparently due to Google discontinuing support for XMPP based calling.
This was disappointing, but not that unexpected. Using Google Voice in this fashion to pair with a landline phone has never been officially sanctioned by Google and we all know that Google changes features and discontinues services from time to time. Fortunately, in this case they've given us some advance notice to consider next steps.
I can't complain. Other than the initial investment of $40 for the ObiTalk hardware, I have enjoyed landline telephone service free of charge for more than two years. (That's about the cost of 2 months of my prior home phone service with a heck of a lot more features.) I've more than got my money's worth. As Obihai points out of their blog post, I can continue to use my hardware with a number of other service providers to continue my home telephone service if I so desire. I've also looked at Ooma, a competing VOIP provider with extremely competitive rates ( On their basic plan, you only pay the taxes after the purchase of the device which would work out to about $4 a month in my area.)
I'm not sure yet what am going to do. Thankfully, I have a few months to figure it out. However, I'll most likely do nothing. Two years ago when I installed ObiTalk the cell phone coverage at my house was spotty. At that time, I felt having a landline is a backup was still necessary. Today, I've switch cell phone providers and seldom use my home landline. I also have unlimited voice minutes and nationwide long distance so like many people, I seriously doubt I need a second telephone line.
I can continue to use my Google Voice number and all of the features of Google Voice with my existing cell phone for his long as Google supports it. Candidly, I question longevity of Google Voice. To my knowledge, Google has not found a way to monetize the service and it's always seemed awkward fit with their business model. It wouldn't surprise me if it too went the way of Google Reader.
If you currently have and ObiTalk connected to Google Voice you need to be aware of his upcoming change and plan accordingly. I'll let you know what I decide to do. But for now, I'll likely just disconnect the ObiTalk from my home and continue using Google Voice with my cell phone.