If you'd told me five years ago that I'd one day write another article about the importance of Google Voice, I'd have responded with a friendly but firm "fuhgeddaboudit."

Google Voice was once one of Google's greatest but most underappreciated services. When it launched way back in the prehistoric era of 2009, it promised to change the way we thought about our phones by taking over our primary numbers and then acting as the gatekeeper and controller of all our communications.

For years, Voice was a power-user's dream — especially on Android, where its simple system-level integration made it easy to have Google own your actual phone number and turn the phone itself into a mere node instead of letting it act as the nucleus of your mobile-tech universe. But then, well, Google...Googled. It let Voice languish for years, without any attention or updates, then awkwardly half-merged it into Hangouts and had it rot away unattended for years. And we all know how the whole Hangouts saga ended (or is still in the process of ending, I guess we should say).

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