A few weeks ago I touched on the fact I use Google Voice to save me money. I only briefly mentioned how I use it to provide alternative SMS service and I had some questions about Google Voice as well as the details on how I use it to reduce my SMS costs so here it goes.
What Is Google Voice
Google Voice is a phone service provided by Google, it DOES NOT replace your current phone. It does not do Voice over IP (VOIP) but is instead intended to be used a single number where you can be reached on any of your existing phones. This way no matter how many times you change your home or cell numbers you can still be reached from the one central phone. The service also provides you with transcribed voicemails and the capability to send SMS via the interwebs.
Other possible use is as a dedicated business phone number. Setting it up as a business line will allow you to give out your Google number as opposed to your real cell phone number. Allowing you to have a separate voicemail and call system for business but still ringing through to your cell phone.
Google Voice is still in a limited preview, you can get in on the list by visiting http://www.google.com/voice
Setting up Google Voice
If you have a Blackberry or an Android based phone Google has an app out for both devices allowing you to run GoogleVoice as a native app on the phone. If you are an unlucky iPhone owner the work around gets a little bit more in depth. Apple has decided they don’t want to play nice with Google and denied them their request to include the Google Voice App on the iPhone. Google didn’t like that too much so they developed an HTML5 based version of the app that you can run directly from the Safari browser (See Photo to the Right).
Once you have a Google Voice account the first thing you will need to do is setup your phone numbers you are going to want it to dial. In order to get SMS rolling you need to switch over to the Voicemail & SMS tab under settings.
Under voicemail notifications check the “Email the message to:” box and select the e-mail you will want your voicemail and SMS sent to. If it isn’t listed click on add a new email address. Make sure the Send a text (SMS) message to: boxes are unchecked, otherwise Google will just forward the message to your cell, still costing you a text.
Now go down to SMS Forwarding and make sure you check “Forward SMS to my email.” Your resulting settings should look something like this:
Now you will get a e-mail copy of the message whenever someone texts to your GV number. You can easily reply to the SMS by just replying to the e-mail. You can now send and receive your texts without ever using up your text plan.
Enabling Push Notifications
Now that you have Google voice setup and you are getting your SMS in your inbox we need to set it up so it comes in like a true SMS message. As it stands all you are going to get is a buzz or a beep when you get new mail/messages.
Because Google Voice has no native iPhone app we have t use a third party app to enable push notification for newessages. There are a couple of apps out there that allow you to implement push notification for gmail messages, the one I use is called PushGmail. Basically it acts as a watcher over you gmail or Google apps account and whenever a new message comes in you get a push alert just like when you get a regular text. If you unlock the phone right away it will open into a mobile version of gmail and you can reply through e-mail.
Using this method allowed me to cut my text service
Back from unlimited to the most basic plan AT&T offers. I still get the occasional message to my regular account so I keep at least that plan. The only other limitation is that you can’t get Multimedia Messages (MMS) through GV.