google voice

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I’m a big fan of Google Voice.  During the past year, I’ve written a number of posts about it, including tutorials for setting it up and getting the most out of its features.  During that time, the service has been in a limited beta, by invitation only.  Yesterday, Google Voice opened up to the public.  Anyone can now use it.  To celebrate, I’ve decided to make a list of my favorite ways to use the service.  Where applicable, I’ve provided links to detailed, step-by-step tutorials for setting up the features I describe.

1. Free home phone service:

Google Voice is not a self-contained phone service- it’s just a free and permanent phone number that forwards wherever you want.  There are two VoIP services I know of, SipGate and Gizmo5, that provide free incoming calls.  If you initiate a call through Google Voice’s web interface, by telling it what number you want to call and which of your phones you want connected, Google Voice will place a call to your phone and connect you with the other number after you pick up.  When you dial by this method SipGate and Gizmo5 treat it as an incoming call, which is free.

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In my recent preliminary review of the HTC Tilt 2, I mentioned that getting the device to work with VoIP and Google Voice calls would be a high priority for me.  Since then, I’ve found a workable solution.  This article will show you with step by step instructions how to set it up.

Why would I want to use Google Voice with my cell phone?

  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.

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I previously wrote about using Gizmo Voice to integrate your Gizmo and Google Voice accounts for free incoming and outgoing calls.  Unfortunately, Gizmo voice is no longer completely free.  Incoming calls are still free, as before.  Outgoing domestic calls are free during the first three minutes, after which you will be charged $0.02 per minute.

You can still make free calls by using the Google Voice web interface or DialCentral on your N810.  In Google Voice, click “Call” in the upper left.  Enter the phone number you want to call.  Under “Phone to Ring,” select which of your forwarding phones you want to use for the call.  Google Voice will ring that phone.  When you answer, it will ring the number you are calling.  Gizmo will consider this an incoming call, so you will not be charged.

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At the time of this writing, Google seems to be using IP filtering to prevent people with non-US IP addresses from setting up accounts.  Fortunately, “mgoebel” of the Internet Tablet Talk forum has figured out a beautifully simple way around this.

Here’s how it works:

When you receive your Google Voice invitation, send it to a someone you trust in the United States, and ask them to set up the account for you.  You’ll have to trust them with your password, but you can change that later.  Have them set up the account and send you the login credentials.

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