The GTab can make and receive FREE calls to anyone in US & Canada!
This is made possible by using your Google Voice account and an excellent Android app – GrooVe IP. I will be glad to show you how…
Google Voice (GV) has been out of beta (available to anyone who requests it) for several months now. There are a LOT of benefits from the free service but many people are still blank about its existence or what it offers. I won’t try (in this article) to describe all the features but you can visit the website to learn more and to sign up. If you already have a GMail account, just sign in with that. If not, just hit the “create an account” button on the right side.
The sign up is straight forward and you should have no difficulty. Note that GV gives you a real telephone number in the area code of your choice. You may even be able to get your choice of phone number. (Do NOT – at this time – “port” your existing number.) But GV does NOT give you a physical phone line to connect a real telephone into. You MUST provide at least one phone number that you have access to already. GV will call that number and ask you to enter the code that they provided during signup.
After you have completed the sign up phase, visit your GV page and click on the “gear” icon in the upper right corner. Then select “Voice Settings” to see the settings specific to Google Voice. Under the “Phones” tab, click the box next to “Google Chat.” That is the function that will allow your GTab (or other device) to make & receive free calls via your GV number. Note: Google may begin charging for this service at some time in the future. However, they have stated publicly that we will be able to make and receive FREE calls through the end of 2011. After that??? Also, be aware that having multiple gv accts may violate Google’s terms of service.
GrooVe IP (GVIP) is an android application that costs $4.99 on the Android Market. Trust me, it is WELL WORTH the money! (Note: when you buy an application from the Android Market, it is available for use on any Android devices that you have registered on that account – or that you WILL register – so you can also use this on your cell phone. I will give instructions on how that can save you money in another article. Note- this is technically possible but legally, you are bound be each apps license.) Just install the app and visit the settings to select your Google Voice account and make any other changes that you desire.
You must be connected to WiFi. You can make & receive unlimited calls to anyone in the US & Canada while connected to your home, or other, WiFi network.
On the go, you will find that most coffee shops, libraries, book stores, & many other locations offer free WiFi to their customers. In my town, the entire downtown area has free WiFi. But what if you are out of range of any of these services? My T-Mobile G2 (with CM7 custom rom) has the ability to serve as a “hotspot.” I can connect to that and share the data connection from my mobile phone. But, since I am leaving TMO, I purchased the Verizon “MiFi” device (see my review here) that operates like a portable WiFi access point. With it, I can use my GTab as a cell phone – with no other charges.
ISSUES: These are the problems that I have experienced using this setup on my GTab:
- .No sound. During my first test calls from the GTab, I could connect and hear the other person fine but users on the other end could not hear me. I visited the GVIP Settings – Audio & increased the Microphone gain. This has to be balanced because if you increase it too much, you will get “feedback” (squealing) over both ends. Now, it seems that the volume on both ends is very good.
- Single login. You CANNOT use this setup on two separate devices at the same time. I thought it would be cool to be able to answer an incoming call on EITHER my GTab or my cell phone. However, when you connect one device, the second will never log in. Just makes sense when you think about it. A thought – you might have more than one Google account ( is that legal?) and related GV phone number. 😉 In that case, you could have a GV number for your GTab and another GV number for your cell phone.
- Some lag. During some calls, there seems to be a little bit of lag between when I speak and when the other person hears my voice. This is pretty insignificant and can easily be overlooked considering the COST of the call <grin>.
- Need earphone. This is not absolutely necessary. The GTab does have a reasonably good mic and speakers. However, the use of an earphone makes the conversation much easier. I like to use my Plantronics bluetooth device. The sound is very good.
- Bluetooth functions. So far (limited testing), I have not been able to ANSWER incoming calls using the bluetooth headset (touch the master button). Instead, I have to click the Answer button on the GTab screen. Again, this is a minor thing and is not worthy of calling it a “problem.”
I hope you have the same level of success with this as I have experienced. Leave a comment about how it works for you. To those who comment (only): send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your GV Phone Number and I will respond with my GV number. If you have not left a comment here, I will probably ignore your email.
ADDED: For this application to work, you need to have it signed in to Google Voice (GV). You can set it to automatically execute when you turn your device on but it can not sign in to GV until it senses an Internet connection. Having the app running does not seem to drain the battery a lot but it will shorten your charge some. Possible ISSUE: When you leave the Wifi area, it will sign off from GV. When you move back into a Wifi area, it does not always sign in automatically. I may have just been too anxious, but several times, I have had to manually sign in to GV. Just be aware of the “GV” icon in the notifications area. If it is GREEN, then GrooVe IP is signed in and should work properly. If the icon is RED, then it is not signed in and will not make or receive calls.
If you have problems with the GrooVe IP application, there may be an answer on the developer’s website. Check the FAQs here: http://snrblabs.com/snrb/Apps/GrooveIP/FAQ.aspx