What’s the difference between porting your mobile number and using it in two places at once? Sprint and Google Voice, that’s what. Both companies just announced a deal to streamline the whole port-your-number process courtesy Google’s Internet-based telephony service.
The partnership essentially lets you display your Google Voice number when calling someone from your Sprint phone. Google already lets you do that with text messages, but not phone numbers.
Think one number for all your devices (well, all your Sprint devices).
“Take that, Skype, and everyone not Sprint,” would be the other way you’d put it.
Of course you can use Google Voice with any other carrier and access the same handy Google Voice features like “call screening” and “voicemail transcription.” In fact I recently transferred my Verizon flip-top phone number over to Google Voice before canceling my Verizon contract in order to lop nearly $300 off the price of a $650 iPhone 4. I wanted to grab the number from Verizon and make it my business ringer front-end, so I did.
But it cost $20 for the port, something the Google-Sprint deal renders irrelevant. The port also took several days to complete, involved a bunch of phone calls, and required some extra online babysitting–a fairly disruptive process that disappears under the new Google-Sprint deal.
In fact what Google and Sprint are up to isn’t technically a port at all. You just set your existing Sprint wireless phone number as your Google Voice number, and presto: All the upsides of running through Google Voice with none of the fees or bureaucratic downsides.
While the service will eventually work on any Sprint phone, smart or no, the company singled out its just-announced Samsung Nexus S 4G1 as set to ship preloaded with a special Google Voice Android app. The app should let you fiddle Google Voice settings without having to route through a browser.
Will Sprint remain the only carrier to offer streamlined Google Voice interaction? A note under Google Voice’s outgoing caller ID settings currently reads “calls will be included soon.”
Hey, we can hope.
More on TIME.com: