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For those who have heard of the service, but not tried it, or those who ... Smartphone Reviews forum

  1. #1
    MStrawder's Avatar
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    Review: Google Voice (App and Service)


    For those who have heard of the service, but not tried it, or those who have signed up, but either didn't understand it's capabilities or get past the setup page, I'd like to talk about one of the best things goings for the mobile community. The service was originally called GrandCentral and I'm sure there are many people who remember it as that, but earlier this year, Google officially renamed it to Google Voice.

    The features of the service include:

    • Your own phone number
    • Free Local And Long Distance Calling From Your Google Voice Number
    • Low Rates On International Calls
    • Have All Calls To Your Google Number Ring Multiple Lines (Mobile, Home, and Office)
    • Call Screening
    • Free SMS (Text Messages)
    • Visual Voicemail (Transcribed and Downloadable)
    • Listen To Voicemail As The Party Is Recording It
    • Access SMS/Voicemail From Any Mobile Device Or PC (With An Internet Connection)
    • Push Email Notification Of New Voicemail

    When you signup for an invite (currently the only way available to setup an account), Google gives you a phone number in the area code you specify. This number acts like a central hub for all of your voice/data needs. In a nutshell, you call Google and it then forwards the call along to the party you want to talk to. Whether you login via the web, or through one of the mobile apps, you'll have full access to place calls, send/receive SMS, and read and playback voicemail. There are also several apps out there that help to automate the process of placing calls and sending/receiving SMS, such as GVDialer, but most, if not all, of these are paid apps.

    The Web:

    Your main inbox will look like the picture below.

    From here, you can read/listen to voicemails, read/compose SMS messages (press 'M' or click the SMS button), review call logs, or place calls (press 'C' or click the Call button).

    Mobile Apps:

    This first screenshot is from the BlackBerry mobile app. It carries the basic functions necessary to use Google Voice, but definitely lacks in the aesthetics department. The two tabs pictured are your call log and inbox. The call log is pretty straightforward, showing you placed, missed, and received calls. From this tab, you can place a call or send an SMS by entering the phone number into the box at the top, or by selecting your address book from the app's menu.

    The inbox is also pretty straightforward in that it displays received/sent SMS messages and new voicemail notifications. You can reply to any SMS through here by scrolling down to the message and selecting 'Reply' from the app's menu.

    The much more feature rich iPhone version (pictured below) functions in much the same way, except that most actions are done through the touchscreen icons, rather then scrolling through menus. It also incorporates the device's address book into itself, simplifying the process of selecting contacts, allows you to play voicemail and reply to SMS from the same menu, rather then in different tabs.

    Lastly, the Android version which carries all of the same functions, just a different interface.


    The overall beauty of this service is that it gives you one central repository for all of your SMS, phone calls, and voicemail. This is great for anyone who has a constant need to stay in touch, but removes the need to hand out 3-4 phone numbers to do that. The call quality is excellent and the SMS is just as quick as that of your carrier. A few things should be noted however:

    1) The SMS function of the service is a pull, rather then push service by default. This means that unless you select the option in your settings page to have SMS forwarded to your mobile device, you will have to login to check new messages. By doing this though, you will likely incur charges from your carrier for incoming messages, unless you have a messaging bundle. There is a workaround for this, posted here. It takes a few minutes to setup, but will basically email you when you receive a new message, so that you don't have to login just to check. Using this method allows you to disable the SMS forwarding feature and thus keep SMS messages FREE.

    2) While placing calls through the service on your mobile device does not require anything more then an active line, to use the SMS feature and download voicemail, you will need a data plan from your carrier.

    3) Because you place calls to your number and they are then forwarded through Google, it has been posted that you can simply add this number to your calling list (MyFaves, MyCircle, etc..) and never use your plan minutes as the call is routed through Google. This could save a lot of money in the long run on your wireless bill.

    4) While I pictured the iPhone app above for illustrative purposes, as most know, the app was pulled from the App Store by Apple. However, there are 3rd-party apps out there that do the same thing for 'Jailbroken' devices. Currently, the only official way for iPhone users to access the service is through the site itself.

    I have been extremely pleased with the service overall and the fact that I no longer pay for SMS through my carrier. I look forward to a bit more visual of an app for the BlackBerry and push email notifications of SMS directly from Google, rather then forwarded via a 3rd-party.

    Useful Links:

    Below are some links to get you started with the service and help you along getting it setup.

    Last edited by MStrawder; 08-11-2009 at 05:51 PM.
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  2. #2
    Tre Lawrence's Avatar
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    Good stuff...

  3. #3
    srl7741's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Good Stuff & Good Service.


  4. #4
    azstar's Avatar
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    Nice review, looks like it is a great service.
    Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_0 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile/7A341 Safari/528.16

  5. #5
    impak875's Avatar
    impak875 no está en línea Stack level 4
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    Aug 2008
    Great review for a wonderful app... got my invite about a week ago and I love using it!!!

  6. #6
    williamsj83's Avatar
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    Jan 2008
    I was made they didnt have any numbers for Daytona Beach so i just got a Orlando number, always wanted a 407 number..

  7. #7
    eazid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by williamsj83 View Post
    I was made they didnt have any numbers for Daytona Beach so i just got a Orlando number, always wanted a 407 number..
    area code 305
    "Who Dares Wins"

  8. #8
    jblackfish's Avatar
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    Very nice review MS. Thanks for taking the time to post it.
    For every complex problem there is a solution, that is simple, neat, .....and wrong! (H. L. Mencken) jblackfish(at)pinstack(dot)com

  9. #9
    Emmc's Avatar
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    Great review. I've had this service for a while. It's been great.

  10. #10
    ealvnv's Avatar
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    ask me
    Great review, I'm outside the us, and this service is helping me to keep contact with my fam trough SMS I love it, plus the internatinal rates are acceptable and the voice quality is great....
    BlackBerry9000/ Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102

  11. #11
    StarMile's Avatar
    StarMile no está en línea Stack level 3
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    Sep 2007
    Any one know a trick to make sure the number you get isn't a toll number in my local area? My first GV account I got a number in my area code, but it's a toll number from half the state away and land line friends don't want to call it. I've got other invites I could use to get another number, but I don't want to bother unless I can see if it's local first.

  12. #12
    Emmc's Avatar
    Emmc no está en línea Stack level 5
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    I had the same issue. I ended up with a different area code, but the number is more local.

    Enter the area code you want. It will show you the available numbers and the areas they are in. Pick one that is closest to you.

  13. #13
    BB_KC_Boy's Avatar
    BB_KC_Boy no está en línea Stack level 3
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    Aug 2006
    i love Google voice.. get unlimited calling for Free..
    i am on TMo and i took the outgoing number it uses and put it as a fave and all my outgoing calls are free now..

    T- Mobile G1 using Cyanogen Build Android 1.6 On T-Mobile Network
    Running a Hero Based Theme

    I AM A PC AND LOVE IT!!!!!!!!

  14. #14
    Jaricanese's Avatar
    Jaricanese no está en línea Software Pro
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    May 2007
    Great review. I heard of GrandCentral/Google Voice before but didn't quite get a good grasp of what it did till now. Thanks.

  15. #15
    BestWitted's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    Excellent review MS! I too use it and like it a lot.
    BlackBerry8900/ Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102

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