This extremely annoying “feature” was intentionally developed by Google to let Google Voice users make outgoing calls or send text messages to others and have them come from their Google Voice numbers. There is no way to turn it off, even for people who are using the Call on GV (formerly Phone GV Extension) and SMS GV Extension tweaks available for iPhone users, which solve the same problem in a far more elegant way that’s prohibited by Apple.
The problem was really annoying and I knew that there must be a way to solve it. I was nearly certain that it must be a configuration issue somewhere, so I started searching the web for a way to get rid of it. Unfortunately, I found nothing, and even less than nothing in the completely useless Google Voice support forums.
I tried using Google Plus to ask some of the people in the jailbreak community who had developed the extensions after Zhi Zheng open sourced them. Note: needless to say, I’d normally never use Google Plus for something like this because it’s a ghost town, but in this case it was the only way I had to contact these people.
I posted on this thread:
Can anyone help me configure SMS GV Extension so it does not show Google’s alias numbers (direct access numbers) in my Messages app? I know I had this configured and working right in iOS 4-5 using the older SMS GV Extension, but I can’t figure out what I did then to make it work right.
Then I started a different thread in the jailbreak community:
Using Google Voice on iPhone – how do I get it to display the correct contact number instead of Google’s aliases (direct access numbers)? I know it worked on the old SMS GV Extension, but I haven’t got it working on the new version, which I have installed and am able to use.
A fellow going by the name “sherlock holmes” took the time to answer me, but he professed never to have seen or heard of this issue before, so unfortunately he wasn’t able to help (thanks to him anyway).
Since I love Quora, I decided to try asking the question there: Why does Google Voice make my iPhone Messages app show the direct access numbers for incoming text messages?. To elaborate, I added these question details:
iPhone 4S (Verizon) running iOS 6.1. When I receive a text message to my Google Voice number and it’s forwarded to my iPhone, my Messages app displays a GV direct access number associated with the contact, instead of the contact’s actual number. How do I make it show the contact’s correct number?
I’ve checked this with a few other iPhone users with Google Voice, and they confirm that it’s not happening for them.
Is it caused by: a GV setting that I’ve changed? a GV bug? something related to my iPhone or Messages app?
And to elaborate even further, I explained what I’d tried to far to identify the problem:
- removing my iPhone number from my GV account, then adding it back
- uninstalling and reinstalling Google Voice iPhone app
- fiddling with various GV settings
- uninstalling and reinstalling Call on GV cydia tweak
- uninstalling and reinstalling SMS GV Extension package
- hard rebooting (multiple times)
- installing BiteSMS (problem is replicated there)
I paid 1000 credits to promote the question to a bunch of people, and I paid probably another thousand or so to ask some Google Voice experts to answer, and I privately messaged one Googler and former Google Voice engineer for help, but nobody answered. The only comment was from someone who expressed doubt that even people at Google are using Google Voice. I tend to agree with that sentiment.
Not having luck with Quora, I decided to turn to Stack Exchange, even though in the past I’ve had mostly negative experiences with the community there.
When typing in my question, I found that someone in the past had experienced the same problem and had already posted: text messages forwarded from my google voice number aren’t recognized as being from my iPhone contacts. He explained:
I set up my google voice number to forward to my AT&T number, but when I get texts from some people who are in my contact list, the text appears to come from phone numbers I don’t recognize. The text message itself will be prefaced by the phone number the text is coming from, but even though that number is in my contact list, the message does not offer me the name of the person. I have an iPhone 4 and I’m running iOS 6.1. Any help is appreciated.
I emailed him to ask if he’d gotten any resolution. He quickly replied to say that he hadn’t.
So I voted up his question and spent all of my Stack Exchange credits to add a bounty on it. Here’s the note I put on my bounty:
This question has not received enough attention.
I’m adding a bounty on this question because (1) I am experiencing the same problem; (2) nobody has given an answer here; (3) I have asked in other places and not gotten an answer; (4) Googling for an answer doesn’t give me anything useful; (5) I’ve tried to fix it in a bunch of ways and gotten nowhere.
I should have known that the bounty idea wouldn’t work, but I didn’t, and the bad Stack Exchange community members suddenly started coming out of the woodwork.
Here’s the first incorrect answer by a user named cablesm:
This is, unfortunately, a limitation of Google Voice. Google Voice cannot spoof your friends’ numbers, so it has to send texts from its own numbers. However, each of your contacts will have a unique number from which Voice will send you texts, so you can send messages to those numbers and reply to them and it will reach your friends.
There are two ways around this. You can use the Google Voice app. Messages will come through your data plan and not your SMS plan, and they’ll show up with the right names and everything. Alternatively, you can add the numbers Google uses as the “from” address as another number in your iPhone contacts. The number will still work to reach them, and the messages will appear to come from your Google Voice number.
I wanted to comment and tell him that I very much appreciated his effort in helping me, but that unfortunately his information was incorrect. However, using all my credits to make the bounty meant that I couldn’t make a comment, because commenting required credits. So I added my comment as an answer instead, hoping that someone would convert it to a comment, which was done:
THIS IS NOT A LIMITATION OF GOOGLE VOICE. It is an isolated issue that happens only to some people, not to other people. I have checked with multiple other GV users with iPhones and tested it with them: when I send a text message to their GV number that gets forwarded to the iPhone Messages app, it shows up with my correct number, NOT a GV direct access number.
Cablesm then asked:
Are you sending from your own GV number? Because in that case, Google does own your number, and can forward it on to the destination with your GV number and not a forwarding number.
Hey, thanks for asking for clarification. This issue is not about sending, it’s about receiving. I can use SMS GV Extension when sending to ensure that other people see my correct GV number when they receive a text message from me; but what I’m trying to fix is what I see in my Messages app when I get a text message from someone else to my GV number.
Then a user named Elliott added this completely useless and even nonsensical comment:
cablesm is mostly correct, although I would add that some people consider this a great feature rather than a limitation, because it gives you a “shortcut” number for each person. You can add those numbers to your address book, then use them in the Phone app to make calls too. But it is true that when GV forwards an incoming text to your cellphone, it cannot spoof the sender’s real number unless the sender is using GV also.
I ignored him. After this, nobody else should have added the same answer as cablesm, and nobody should have upvoted cablesm’s incorrect answer. But that didn’t stop user HelpingHand from jumping in:
As google has shown in this link, this is a normal feature of Voice.
Well… maybe Google has a web page stating it, but I wasn’t able to find anybody who had ever seen anything like this, including someone intimately familiar with SMS GV Extension, except for a lone question on Stack Exchange. So it clearly wasn’t a “normal feature of Voice.”
Not content to be wrong and repetitive, HelpingHand felt the need also to be an asshole, so he commented on his own false answer:
If one of these answers has answered your question, please confirm it. Don’t be a loser by waiting until the bounty is over. That’s not how things are done here.
That’s right, he called me a loser because I hadn’t upvoted any of the incorrect answers, two days into a seven day bounty. This sort of treatment is why I hate the Stack Exchange community.
And then I solved the problem myself.
What fixed it? All I had to do was turn off Google syncing for my contacts, and then reactivate it: Settings app > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > [my Google account] > flip Contacts to off, then flip back on. I am certain that the above step solved my problem. By re-syncing all the contacts’ telephone numbers, it seems to have forced the correct ones to appear in Messages app.