How to make free Google Voice calls on your iPhone or iPod Touch with iOS 4

Why would I want to use Google Voice with my iPhone?

  1. Google Voice gives you a permanent number that forwards to the phone or phones of your choice.  If you change carriers or move, you don’t have to worry about “porting” your old phone number- you can just change your forwarding phone settings in Google Voice.  Additionally, your Google Voice number can ring your home, work, and cell phones at the same time, and you can answer whichever one you want.  You can block specific numbers, send others to specific phones, and determine what time of day you want each phone to ring.
  2. Save money/minutes on calls.  US calls are free.  International calls are far less expensive than the exorbitant per-minute fees charged by cellular carriers.  For example, I can use Google Voice to call my sister in Germany for about 2 cents per minute.  AT&T would charge well over a dollar per minute for the same call.
  3. Keep your cell/home numbers private.  You can use Google Voice as your outgoing number when you place calls, which gives the advantage of not exposing numbers you want to keep private.  Only your Google Voice number will show up on caller ID when you place calls this way.
  4. Save money on text messages.  You can send and receive text messages directly from Google Voice using your phone’s mobile browser.  If you don’t have a text plan, or if your text plan only gives you a limited number of monthly messages, this is a good way to maximize your usage while saving on message fees.  Alternatively, you can have your text messages forwarded to your phone or email.  If you have push email set up, you can receive and reply to texts through email without losing any functionality.
  5. Voicemail transcription.  Using your phone’s mobile browser, you can read transcriptions of voicemail messages minutes after they are left.  The transcriptions are not perfect, and are sometimes amusing, but the service is good enough that you can usually see who called and get the gist of what they wanted.

Disclaimer (Read this before you continue!): The procedure described below worked on my wife’s iPhone 3GS from AT&T running iOS 4.  I have not tried it on any other device and I make no guarantees that it will work on yours.  I do not offer any type of tech support.  Also, VoIP calls over a cellular data network won’t use your minutes, but WILL count towards your monthly data usage limit.  If you choose to proceed, you do so at your own risk and agree that I am not responsible for anything that may go wrong as a result, including, but not limited to: overage charges, voided warranties, hardware damage, or your girlfriend leaving because you spend more time tinkering with your phone than hanging out with her.

Still with me?  Good.

Things you’ll need

In addition to your iPhone, you’ll need two free apps and a couple of free user accounts.  I’ll show you where to get each of these things and how to configure them.

Hardware

  1. An iPhone running iOS 4 (3GS or newer).  This setup takes advantage of iOS 4’s new “Fast App Switching” feature and will not work properly on a 3G or older iPhone unless it is jailbroken and running “Backgrounder.”  This method also works on an iPod Touch running iOS 4, but you’ll need a separate microphone for voice calls.

Software

  1. Fring.  This is the VoIP client you will use for your Google Voice calls.  You can use another VoIP client if you prefer, as long as it is configurable and supports the SIP protocol.
  2. Opera Mini.  This is a web browser.  This method does not work in Safari, so we have to use a different browser.

Services

  1. A wifi or 3G connection.
  2. A free Google Voice account.
  3. A free SipGate account.  Your Google Voice account will forward to this service, which integrates directly with Fring.

Part One: Obtain the required apps

Instructions:

  1. Go to the App Store and install Fring and Opera Mobile.

Part Two: Setting up Google Voice

Instructions:

I recommend using your desktop computer rather than your mobile browser for this part.

  1. If you don’t already have a Google Voice account, go to http://www.google.com/voice and click “Create An Account.”  If you don’t already have a Google account, you’ll be asked to set one up at this point.  You will have a choice of area codes, and the chance to enter any number sequences you want in your new phone number.
  2. Once you’ve created your Google Voice account, log in and click “Settings” in the upper right corner.
  3. Under “Settings,” select “Phones.”  This is where you set up Forwarding Phones, which are the phones you want your Google Voice number to forward to.  When you place a call through Google Voice, you will choose one of your forwarding phones for the call to be connected to.
  4. Click “Add phone.”  You’ll be asked to enter the type of phone, the number, and a phone name that you select.  At this point, you should enter your cell number.
  5. After you click “Save,” a message will pop up telling you that the number needs to be verified.  A 2-digit code will be displayed.
  6. Click “Connect.”  Google Voice will call the phone number.  When you answer, you will be asked to enter the code displayed on the website using your phone’s numeric keypad.  After you have entered the code, you will be told, “your forwarding phone is set up.  Goodbye.”

This is all the setup you need to use Google Voice with your iPhone as long as you don’t mind using your minutes.  If you want to make free VoIP calls, follow the instructions below.

Part Three: Setting up your Gizmo or SipGate account

I recommend using your desktop computer rather than your mobile browser for this part.

Note: Parts Two and Three are optional.  You need them only if you want to make free VoIP calls with your iPhone that don’t use your minutes, or if you want to connect your Google Voice number with an analog telephone adapter for free home phone service.

Update: Since Gizmo5 is no longer allowing new signups, I recommend substituting a free SipGate account.

SipGate Instructions (You don’t need this if you’re using Gizmo5)

  1. Go to https://secure.sipgate.com/register/code.  Enter your cell number to receive a text message with instructions for signing up.  Make sure you choose “SipGate One,” which is free.  Make a note of your SipGate number.  You can always find it again by signing into your account, clicking “Settings” and then “Phone Numbers.”

Note: Your new SipGate number is a normal phone number, and can be called directly from any phone.  Incoming calls are free.  Outgoing calls cost 2 cents per minute at the time of this writing.  Combining your SipGate number with Google Voice allows you to make calls in such a way that SipGate treats them as free incoming calls.

Gizmo Instructions (You don’t need these if you’re using SipGate.)

  1. Go to GizmoProject.com.  Click on “Download for Desktop.”  Follow the instructions for downloading and installing the Gizmo softphone client.
  2. When you open the softphone program for the first time, you will have two choices: “Log in using an existing account name” or “Register a new account name.”  Select “Register a new account name.” You’ll be asked to pick a username and password, and provide an email address.  Follow the instructions to register your free account.  Don’t opt for any of the paid plans unless you already know you want to.
  3. Return to GizmoProject.com.  Click on “Members Sign In” in the upper right corner.  Enter your username and password to sign in.
  4. Scroll down until you see “Account Overview.”  Beneath “Account Overview” you should see “Sip Number:” followed by a 11 digit number that looks like a phone number.  Write this number down– you’ll need it to set up forwarding in your Google Voice account.
  5. Click the “Google Voice” tab.  Enter your Google Voice number and click “Save.”  This enables Google Voice calling directly through Gizmo.  Your Google Voice number will show up as your outgoing caller ID.  Gizmo limits you to 3 minutes free on outgoing calls, after which you pay 2 cents per minute.  All incoming calls are free, which is why I’m going to show you how originate your calls from Google Voice such that Gizmo treats them as incoming calls.

Note: the Gizmo “Sip” number is not a regular phone number, and cannot be directly called from a cell phone or landline.  In order to take calls from regular phones, you have to set up a forwarding service, such as Google Voice.  For a few dollars per month, Gizmo will give you a regular phone number that forwards to your Sip number.  Google Voice does the same thing for free, and I’ll explain how to set that up.

Part Four: Configure Fring

Fring is a free VoIP and chat client for the iPhone.  This is how you’ll make Google Voice calls without using your minutes.  Theoretically, any VoIP client that uses the SIP protocol should be compatible and can be used in place of Fring.

Update: If you’re configuring Fring to use your SipGate account, follow the instructions below, but substitute your SipGate SIP credentials.  To find them, sign into your SipGate account, click Settings, then SIP Credentials in the rightmost column.  A popup will appear with your SIP credentials, which you can print if you wish.  Use “sipgate.com” as your proxy.

  1. Once you’ve installed Fring, you need to configure it with your SIP settings.  To do this, open Fring and select More at the bottom right corner of the screen.  Select Add-ons from the list, then select SIP.  If you’re using Gizmo, then choose “Gizmo” at this point  If you’re using SipGate, choose “Other.”
  2. Under “Username” enter your 11 digit Gizmo SIP number.  If you don’t know what this is, go back to Part Two Step 3 for instructions on how to find it.  If you’re using Sipgate, enter your SipGate SIP-ID.
  3. Enter your password in the “Password” field.
  4. Under “Proxy,” enter “proxy01@sipphone.com” if you’re using Gizmo, or “sipgate.com” if you’re using SipGate.
  5. Tap “Subscribe.”

Part Five: Set up forwarding from Google Voice to Gizmo or SipGate

SipGate Instructions

  1. Open Fring on your iPhone.
  2. Log into your Google Voice account on your desktop computer.  Click “Settings” then “Phones.”
  3. Click “Add Phone.”
  4. You’ll be asked to enter the type of phone, the number, and a phone name that you select. Select “Home” under phone type and enter your 10 digit SipGate number.  (This is the number I told you to write down in Part Two.  If you didn’t write it down, log into your SipGate account, click “Settings” then “Phone Numbers.”)
  5. Click “Save.”  After you click “Save,” a message will pop up telling you that the number needs to be verified.  A 2-digit code will be displayed.  Click “Confirm.”
  6. On your iPhone, Fring will ring.  Accept the call, then tap the dialpad button in the upper right corner below the volume button.  When prompted, enter the 2-digit Google Voice verification code.  You will be told that your phone is now verified.

Gizmo Instructions

  1. Log into your Google Voice account.  Click “Settings” then “Phones.”
  2. Click “Add Phone.”
  3. You’ll be asked to enter the type of phone, the number, and a phone name that you select. Make sure you select “Gizmo” under phone type.  Enter your 11 digit Gizmo Sip number.  (This is the number I told you to write down in Part Two.  If you didn’t write it down, return to Part Two step 3.)
  4. Click “Save.”  After you click “Save,” a message will pop up telling you that the number needs to be verified.  A 2-digit code will be displayed.  Click “Confirm.”
  5. On your iPhone, Fring will ring.  Accept the call, then tap the dialpad button in the upper right corner below the volume button.  When prompted, enter the 2-digit Google Voice verification code.  You will be told that your phone is now verified.

Part Six: Place calls using Fring

This is the part where we put all the pieces together so you can make free Google Voice calls without using your cell phone minutes.

Gizmo and SipGate do not charge for incoming calls, but they do charge a per minute rate for outgoing calls.  We’re going to get around this by originating the calls from the Google Voice mobile website so that Gizmo or SipGate will treat each call as a free incoming call.

Here’s how you place calls:

  1. Open Fring and leave it running.
  2. Press the Home button twice quickly to open the Fast App Switching Menu.
  3. Open Opera Mini and go to www.google.com/voice/m.  You should save this site as a bookmark or start page shortcut.
  4. Log in with your Google Voice credentials.
  5. Scroll down until you see Quick Call and a text input field.  Tap the input field and type the phone number you want to call.  Tap Call.
  6. Fring will ring.  When you accept the incoming call, Google Voice will  place the call you dialed.
  7. You can also place calls by tapping Contacts, selecting a contact, and tapping Call.

Part Seven: Additional ways to use Google Voice on your iPhone

Send and receive texts through Google Voice

From Safari or Opera Mini, go to http://www.google.com/voice/m.  This the mobile version of the Google Voice web interface.  From there, you can send and receive text messages, and view your call history and voicemail transcriptions.  Placing calls through Fring only works in Opera Mini, but you can send texts and place Google Voice calls directly from your iPhone using Safari.

Make Google Voice calls without Fring

If you want to make a regular cellular call but have Google Voice show up as your outgoing caller ID, open Safari, and go to http://www.google.com/voice/m.  Enter a phone number or select a contact and select Call.  Select Call again when prompted.  Your iPhone will dial a Google Voice proxy number and the call will be routed through Google Voice to the number you dialed.  Your Google Voice number will show up on the other person’s caller ID.

Unlimited calls without using Fring

If you have a plan that includes unlimited calling to certain numbers, you can get unlimited calling to all your contacts by setting your Google Voice numbers as one of your faves, placing all your calls through Google Voice.  For unlimited incoming calls, you’ll need to configure Google Voice to show your GV number as the incoming number on Caller ID when someone calls you.

Use Google Voice as your landline

If you have an analog telephone adapter, you can configure it for use with Google Voice and your regular landline telephone.

Use Google Voice with your Windows Mobile phone

If you have a Windows Mobile device (not Windows Phone 7), you can configure it as a VoIP phone using Fring.

Use Google Voice (including VoIP calling) with your Android phone

Here’s a tutorial for configuring your Android device for free VoIP calls with Google Voice.

Use Google Voice with your Nokia Internet Tablet

If you have a Nokia N-series internet tablet, you can configure it for use as a wifi phone using Google Voice and Gizmo.

Make cheap international calls

Domestic US calls with Google Voice are free.  You can also make international calls starting at about 2 cents per minute if you buy calling credit with GV.  Log into your Google Voice account at http://www.google.com/voice/ and go to Settings -> Billing -> Add Credit.

Did this article save you time or money? If so, please consider making a donation through my secure PayPal link.

Share This Post
  1. John Blanchard’s avatar

    Just got it setup for myself. Been waiting for a good way to use Google Voice and VOIP. Thanks for the great tutorial!!

  2. BM’s avatar

    This worked great for my iPod Touch 4G for inbound/outbound calls. Thanks for the advice. The one recommendation I have is to use VoiceCentral Black Swan instead of Opera to make outgoing calls. Thanks again!!!

  3. Jim O’s avatar

    Hi Jonathan,

    I found a Sip Number (7 digit acct# plus e0) by going to my settings and hovering over VOIP Phone icon. A drop down menu shows 5 options, including SIP Credentials. I am wondering if this is the string required to set up forwarding in my Google Voice account?

    Jim O

  4. Jonathan Johnson’s avatar

    @Jim,

    The string you described that ends with “e0″ is your SipGate SIP-ID which you will use when setting up Fring on your iPhone (see part 4 of the tutorial). You’ll also need the SIP-Password that is displayed directly below the SIP-ID.

    You won’t need your SIP Credentials anywhere in Google Voice. To set up forwarding in your Google Voice account, you need to enter your SipGate phone number. This is a standard US phone number in the format (111) 222-3333. You can find this by clicking Settings, then look under Phone Settings and Extensions.

  5. Andrew’s avatar

    Question. When one calls from google through fring, what shows up on the recipient’s caller ID?

    Thanks,

  6. Andrew’s avatar

    In other words, would my friends call the same phone number as is displayed on their caller ID?

  7. Andrew’s avatar

    In other Words will the person on the other end of my iPod interact with my same phone number for both incoming and outbound calls?

    Thanks,

  8. Nikhil’s avatar

    great..

    thanks a lot for the great article. is quite helpful.. :)

  9. SP’s avatar

    Great guide! Thank you so much for this straightforward tutorial! I’ve been looking for a guide like this for a while now. I’ll be getting my new iPod Touch 4G next week and I have two questions before I go ahead and install Google Voice and Fring on it:

    1. Do you use Google Voice’s keypad or Fring’s keypad when you want to make an outbound call from your iTouch?

    2. Which app is going to ring my iTouch? Google Voice or Fring?

    I just don’t want to use the wrong app for outbound calls and end up having to pay for any mistaken calls. Thank you again for your help! 😀

  10. Jason McMurphy’s avatar

    Have you had any trouble recently with the new version of Fring. It quick working and no longer allows me to use the above method to make calls. Google Voice dials into Fring via sipgate and when Fring picks up it immediately disconnects. I used your method for a month and had no trouble til the new update.

  11. Dre’s avatar

    i tried to use the google voice to make calls but wasnt sucessfull my iphone is jailbroken i wana make calls for free do u need credit to make calls on ure iphone via wifi . GUys please respond

  12. Jo’s avatar

    Hi Jonathon,
    Great article and just the advice I was looking for. I’m having trouble with part five. When I try to verify the number the Fring call rings through but as soon as I answer it hangs up. So I cannot enter the two-digit number.

    I’m using an ipod touch (latest version which has microphone and headphones). I have used skype on it no problem.

    Do you know why it won’t accept the Fring call? I want to use my ipod touch as a phone without having to use my cell to accept or make calls through google. Thanks, J

  13. Jonathan Johnson’s avatar

    Hi Andrew,

    If you use Google Voice to place the call, then yes, your friends would interact with the same phone number for both incoming and outbound calls.

    If you place the call directly from Fring, in addition to paying the per-minute cost of whichever SIP provider you use, the number showing up on Caller ID would be your SIP number and not your GV number.

  14. Jonathan Johnson’s avatar

    @Jim,

    It sounds like you’re using SipGate. The string you described is not for use in Google Voice. You should have an actual 10-digit phone number assigned to you. That number is the one you use to set up forwarding.

  15. Jonathan Johnson’s avatar

    @SP,

    To make an outbound call, use Google Voice’s keypad. That way, you’ll originate the call through Google Voice, and you won’t owe anything as long as it’s a domestic call.

    Fring is the app that will ring your iTouch. The Google Voice app doesn’t have any function beyond originating the call.

  16. Jonathan Johnson’s avatar

    I am having the same problem on my iPhone. I checked the Fring forum and found that this issue has been reported and is being worked on. Here’s a link to the thread in case you’re interested: http://www.fring.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17574

  17. Wayne’s avatar

    I have the exact system (TP2, Gizmo5, Fring). However, when i used idialer to dial a number, my fring could not be activated. I have to use alternately way google voice for mobile to make a call. Does anybody know how to fix it? Thanks.

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