Using Google Voice and the Google Voice App for BlackBerry Smartphones

By Adam Zeis on 18 Feb 2010 03:18 pm EST
Google Voice App

A few months back we posted some quick tips for using Google Voice. Today we're going to look at the app itself - how it works and just what it does. We'll check out how Google Voice can make your life easier, and what the app is still lacking. From having a unified phone number to being able to access all of your account details, messages and voicemails all from one easy place. Granted you still need to be invited to use Google Voice, but it seems like invites are floating around all over and are fairly easy to come by. So if you are a first time user or a seasoned Google Voice vet, hit the jump for a look at the app and see what makes it tick.

Setting Up Google Voice

After you receive your invite, you'll be asked to choose a Google Voice number. You can search through any of the available numbers and choose one that works for you. The number will be tied to your Gmail account, making it easy for you to access everything in one easy place. You will need to setup a device for which to forward your Google Voice calls, and you'll receive a test call to verify the number is your own. One of the first downsides of Google Voice is noticed here where you are not permitted to add a phone number with an extension (for now anyway). So this means that many business lines are out of luck if they do not have a direct line. After verifying the number (or more than one) you are pretty much good to go.

You can download the app from from your mobile device. Sign in using your Gmail credentials, and you will be asked to choose the number associated with the current device. From here you will see the main Google Voice screen has only two tabs - the Dialer and Inbox (or messages). The Dialer is where you place calls (as it replaces your standard dialing procedure) or you may also dial directly from the contact list (we'll get into that in a bit). The Inbox tab displays your messages, and you can choose to show a different label to see SMS, Voicemail, Placed, Received, Starred or Missed. 

Google Voice App
Sign In Screen
Google Voice App
Choose the Number Associated with the Device
Google Voice App
Labels Screen

Jumping into the Settings shows the few options you can tweak in the app. You have the choice to change the device number (which you shouldn't have to if you picked the right one when you logged in), and also options to preload voicemails, play voicemail via the speaker or handset, and the update interval (which can be set to 5 minutes at the lowest). After you get this done, you are up and running with Google Voice.

Google Voice App
Settings Screen

Making Calls with Google Voice

The tricky stuff starts right off the bat when you need to make a call. Since you're using your Google Voice number, it makes sense that you'll want that number to display when calling other people (and not the actual number of the device). You have two options for calling with your Google Voice number. The easiest is to fire up the app and use the Dialer.

Google Voice App
Dialer Screen

Here you can enter a number to call, choose from your call list within the app, or view the address book. Most of us would go right to the third option, but its not as easy as choosing a contact from the address book and placing the call. You'll need to choose the contact, then select "Call using Google Voice". The number isn't magically imported into the app for you to call as one would think. Not a huge deal, but a few more steps than would really be necessary. Once you make or receive a few calls and build up the call list within the app, its much easier to just choose a placed or missed call from the list when dialing. You can also call contacts from the contact list itself but finding the contact in the list, pressing the Menu key and choosing "Call using Google Voice". Any of these options place the call to the contact using an access number rather than dialing direct. This isn't a huge deal, but sometimes Google Voice has trouble connecting and you need to make multiple attempts just to initiate a call. Once you get used to the extra steps you're in good shape. Your Google Voice number displays for the party you are calling (rather than the device number) and just like that you're a Google Voice user.

SMS/MMS Using Google Voice

Using SMS/MMS with Google Voice is where things get a bit tricky. Well, for MMS things aren't tricky at all since Google Voice doesn't support MMS -- at all. For some odd reason, Google pulled from the Verizon "no camera = no MMS" playbook and simply doesn't support MMS. You cannot send an MMS message using your Google Voice number, nor can anyone send you an MMS to your Google Voice number (they get an error saying the service is unsupported). Not a huge deal for me, but it does kind of suck knowing you can't send or receive MMS messages.

SMS messages are a bit shaky themselves with Google Voice, but at least they work. Again we fall back on the dialing rules, and to send an SMS have to use the "SMS using Google Voice" option from the menu when choosing a contact. This option brings you into the Google Voice app where you can compose the message, having to keep in mind that BlackBerry AutoText and other typing features you're used to get tossed out the window. Many of my SMS messages end up in all lowercase without punctuation due to the fact that the app overlooks the BlackBerry features. From there send your message and you're done. Now the good news is that once you start a conversation via SMS, you can reply to messages without having to use the app. The bad news? If the person isn't a Google Voice user, the messages come in from an odd forwarding number and display the user after (see below). If the user is a Google Voice user however, they display just as they would using standard SMS. The other thing that took me a while to figure out, is that Google Voice pretty much ignores your contact list and goes by your actual Google Voice contacts (which you can import from Gmail). I was wondering why numbers that we listed in my contacts were showing up without names, and then I realized you have to add the name/number to your Google Voice contacts through the web as well.

Google Voice App
Menu Options for Calling or SMS
Google Voice App
SMS from a Non-Google Voice Contact
Google Voice App
SMS from another Google Voice Number
Google Voice App
SMS within the Google Voice App

In the Google Voice settings from the web, you can choose which devices receive SMS (so if you use more than one device and don't want SMS messages going to all of them you can specifiy). The messages will also be received in the Google Voice app, although only after the refresh time you chose in the settings. And regardless of if you read the message on the device, it will still show as new in the app. For this reason some may choose to not have SMS go to the device itself and only use the app,  the only downside being you won't see the messages right away (and you can't set an alert for them). In the app you can reply to messages and see the conversation thread, as well as archive, delete and label messages. 

Is Google Voice Right for You?

Google Voice simply isn't for everyone. If you are just a consumer or business user with one device and don't have demanding needs, you're probably fine with what you have. If you are a power user that wants the most control of your device/number or you use multiple devices, you should definitely check out Google Voice. Its great to have a universal number, so no matter how many times you change devices you don't change numbers. I swap back and forth from my 9700 on T-Mobile to any number of other devices on Verizon, and since I can't just swap a SIM from each device, having a Google Voice number is the way to go. You can also set the number to forward to multiple phones, so your mobile device and home phone can ring at the same time, and you can answer whichever you choose. If you're not sure if you need a Google Voice number, then you probably don't. I had my number for nearly 3 years before I finally converted for good, and I'll never look back. There are also a ton of options for Google Voice that can be set from the web. I just love having all my SMS, voicemail, contacts and call logs in one place. The app has a way to go as well. I would love to see better SMS, and any sort of MMS. It would be great if it could integrate more with the native Phone and Messages apps as well, but its definitely off to a good start.


  • Univseral number for any number of devices
  • Ability to store SMS, voicemail, calls etc in one place on the web
  • Never have to give out a new number again


  • No MMS
  • Dialing/SMS is a pain as it doesn't integrate into native BB apps
  • Settings can be tricky to get right when first starting out
For more on Google Voice, check out and to download the mobile app for BlackBerry, head to from your device.
Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

Using Google Voice and the Google Voice App for BlackBerry Smartphones


When someone SMSs back and it is forwarded to your device it will give the person a new number that will allow direct SMS exchanges via Google Voice without having to always use the app.

Big bummer about no MMS.


I have heard that Google Voice is great and really want to try it out. I signed up for the beta months ago and haven't heard anything. Does anyone have an extra invite? It would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Do not have one as of April 4

Yes. GV is only available in the US unfortunately! I'm wondering where the people on here are getting Skype for the BB, or Firefox? I'm on a Curve 2 and would love to have both but last time I checked, neither are available yet for the BB.

I use my normal number, and have the voicemail forward to my google voice number. Set my google voice number on Do Not Disturb, and this way, I get my voicemails transcribed to me so I don't have to step out of meetings, I can just read the transcription and get an idea of what the message is.

I think it's great!

I switched to a storm 2 as well and all you have to do is change your browser to firefox and download the app from the mobile site. Then log in and you should be good to go.

Well, when I switched from the storm 1 to the storm 2, that was the workaround you had to do in order for it to work. Temporarily switch the browser settings to firefox, gv would then recognize your device instead of saying device not supported; download the app and switch back your browser settings. I don't know if you recently downloaded the app and they fixed this bug, but that is what you had to do before.


I use it for my Storm and it works just fine. I had to change the browser settings to be able to download it, but once I did that, it works fine.

I was one of the first people to get GV and I love it. I have a computer repair business and I was able to get the number: ###-###-HELP

Looks great on my business cards :)

How do you get to the labels screen. I have been using this app since release on the Tour and I cant find it anywhere.


I have been using this app for months and never noticed it lol. I just wish there was a way to delete the call logs without going to

Thanks again,

So I use Google Voice and Google Sync on my Storm 9530. I have to do the workaround of changing my browser setting to Firefox, but with both of these applications I am having trouble getting the interface to work with the Storm. It's usable, but it works the way a trackball phone would work (ie, clicking does not work right, and you are unable to hide the keyboard, which hogs the screen). I actually redownloaded Sync last night and it worked RIGHT the first time, then when I rebooted my phone, it went back to the old way. Any ideas how to get these to work CORRECTLY on a Storm?

In order to fix this
1) go to options->Applications
2)BB button-> disable compatibility mode
3) enjoy
4) get sad cause its still not as good as online

Switch to the INBOX tab, then bring up the context menu. Labels is the top option.

I'd never used or knew about them till I read the article, but it took 5 seconds after reading to find it.

if you still have any invites, i'd be glad to take one off your hands ;)

**scratch that, i'm in. the crackberry community rocks, Thx grimball!

I've been on GV for at least 6 months and I live it. I know this was written from a BB perspective, but GV's worth isn't realized unless you couple the mobile aspect with everything else, such as SMS/voicemails that are delivered to your inbox. And, though the transcription is lacking and less than perfect (GV sometimes asks if you're WILLING to pay to improve the service, though it hasn't asked me to actually pay...yet).

As a BB addict, I love how GV is as versatile on my PC/Mac as it is on my BB. Also, the cost savings of not having to pay long distance calls (in most cases) is great. I'm in sales and am on the phone constantly. My boss has noted a distinct decrease in long distance charges from my line.

On my Verizon plan, I have included the Google Voice access number in my "circle" to improve it's value there.

But, I can also send SMS (lack of MMS does bite though) fro my computer/any computer. GV is visuual voicemail; and then there's the personal greetings, ability to record calls...transfer from a desk/standard phone to your cell/any other phone in the MIDDLE of a conversation.

So, if this blog is your first experience with GV, take it with a grain of salt because GV is so much more than just a great (albeit imperfect) BB app.

Great blog, just wanted to add my two cents...

Hey, you didn't really touch on the BEST feature of Google Voice: Transcribed Voicemail! I've been using GV for a few months now and I am in love with that feature. I use GV Voicemail in place of my T-Mobile voicemail. They came out with their visual VM just a few weeks after I got hooked on GVM.

No more having to slog through an audible list of messages, or even a visual list that you still have to listen to. I don't even have to listen to most messages. Just reading them is fine. It's about 85% accurate at transcribing. I can "guestimate" another 10% accuracy by context. Only rarely is the script bad enough that I have to listen to the message.

I don't use any of the other GV features, this one is enough. If you're happy with your mobile carrier number on an unlimited mobile carrier plan and don't worry about minutes or LD charges, GV is still a great thing to use.

Another added benefit is the ability to save and archive all messages. Could come in handy to CYA legally in my line of work.

My absolute favorite thing about GV is that I can send SMS through instead of getting in trouble for having my phone out at work.

Also I was not aware about the labels so thank you all for that information.

I have had my GV #/account for almost a year, and have not done anything w/ it/. By chance, today I've been playing around/experimenting w/ it, and THIS gets posted! Am leaning towards making this my primary number.... I like the vm alerts/transcription and the ability to have all SMS/VM/Etc in one place online. Yeah, the lack of MMS is kind crappy (pre-iPhone 3Gs)... But people can send pix via Google Talk or Gmail....

Would be nice to get a forum going for BB/GV users (if there isn't one already).

I have 2 invites left, if anybody wants one....

Email me - w/ Google Voice Invite Request as the subject. First come, first serve.

- - jnn

has his own GV number, Gmail account and Wave, when he's 18 and I allow him his own Cell phone, I'll get him a BB and he can put all two (three by then?) to good, nay, great use!


I would be not-quite-eternally grateful if someone had an extra invite lying around collecting dust...that they wouldn't mind throwing my direction.

IF you would also like your entire BB phonebook to sync with Google voice, install the Google Sync app.

Make sure you allow "duplicate contacts" in your contact book on your blackberry.

Then sync your gmail account in the Google Sync App on your blackberry.

Next, sign into Google Voice. Goto options (press the BB button) and select refresh.

Now, whenever you make phone calls within GV, or SMS within GV, your Google Voice caller ID from incoming calls will not only reflect the name of the caller in your caller ID while in GV, but also online while in your Google Voice account!

Sync your contacts with Google Sync on your BB is an awesome complement to the Google Voice app since the Google cloud makes these two service able to sync together...


I only use GV for voicemail. Be careful when using Google Sync. It messes up the format of your contacts and puts a bunch of duplicate items in your contacts. I deleted Google Sync. I could not get it to work very well.

I've looked all over the place for an invitation to google voice but everyone i've talked to doesn't have it yet or aren't sending out any more invites. I'd appreciate one if anybody has some to spare. My email is (my crackberry username)

I have a google voice phone number but when i try to download the app to my device (Storm 9530), all I get is the is the mobile web site version, not a link to download the app itself and thats what I want to do. I have figured out that I need to switch my browser setting to firefox but can anyone tell me how to do that? anyone, please???

Has anyone managed to get GV working over WiFi? I have the storm 2 and love GV especially for international calls (2 cents/min to a landline in most of Europe).
I was hoping it would work over the WiFi connection to save on minutes and/or use it overseas but when the wireless is disabled I get a message 'unable to connect to the internet' but I know the WiFi internet connection is working on other apps.

Maybe I'll have to wait for Verizon to launch Skype for the BB next Month.


Sounds like Google is heading in the right direction, but judging only from the article, it does everything a little worse, or not at all, than BlackBerry already does it. The shaky calling features, the extra steps involved in calling and texting, and no MMS... I can only think that the reason one would keep it is for the Voice Mail feature.

So, I guess you get an alternative number (love the idea) but nothing seems to be ergonomically integrated. I'll keep waiting, anxiously.

How do I DL the app to my phone? When I go onto takes me to the mobile version of my VM. How do I get the app link in the article?

I had the exact same issue today and figured out how to get it to work. open the browser app --> hit your blackberry menu key --> choose options --> choose browser configuration --> find t he field named Browser Identification and change that to firefox. once U do that, try to download again. Be sure to switch back so that U have no problems going forward.

The Google Voice app is very cool! There are lot's of useful features that are immediately available for users of all technical level's.

The only downsides that I have come across are that T Mobile won't allow me to forward my phone to my Google Voice account and that I cannot activate "in call recording" without an automated announcement telling both parties that the call is being recorded.

Another downside that I just realized is that there are currently no faxing capabilities within the Google Voice service as well.

I use it to call Canada. Works great for that. Could be easier to dial for Storm/Storm 2 users but not a deal breaker for me. I also added the # phone dials to my Friends and Family so it uses mobile to mobile mins which is AWESOME.. overall 3.5 stars out of 5!!

Everyone seems to have missed the best part of google voice (at least for those of us without unlimited calling plans that also have the free calling to a certain number of friends/family, 10 on att and 5 on tmobile) if you set it up right you are able to have all the calls you make free by having the redirect number google voice calls be one of your free numbers, this makes all of your outgoing google voice calls free, and then also using one of your other free numbers set as your google voice number, and changing the setting in google voice to always show the number calling in as your google voice number.

Another great thing is the sms being sent to your email, it's a little difficult to get used to at first, but it will allow you to reply to all your sms via email, not as good as a better built app for it, but not too bad. This allows you to cancel your sms plan if you are paying for one.

Just my $.02

No! Unfortunately Google Voice is NOT currently available here in the great white north. I hope they get here soon. I see someone is using Skype, but Skype doesn't have a version for the Blackberry yet so I'd be interested in knowing what they are using. Are they on in toyPhone? There is a version of IM with Skype from Shape Services but I tried it and it isn't worth the money and doesn't work well.

i do not know if someone has already talked about how to record phone calls with google voice as i havent had time to read all of the comments but i do see in labels when i hit the bb button that there is a option for recorded and i also know on my buddies g1 he can record calls so yes i do know google voice has the capability. so if anyone knows how to and can explain that would be great. but either way i am way excited because when i get the inpulse watch i will be able to have my voice mails transcribed into text and then be able to read them on my watch which i am pretty excited about!!!!

its great. the app can be improved but works great now. i use it everyday and the conference call feature is good too.

Perhaps a dumb question already answered, but I want to be sure... does GV make use of the wifi/data package ONLY and thus not waste minutes?

On a family plan with minimal minutes, and it'd be nice to not be the one resorting to only allowed to use night and weekend's as they're free.

This also means, once I graduate and have my own service.. would I be able to squeeze by with just the data plan on a BB/Droid and thus not pay for anything else.. since unlimited data at 20$ a month is perfectly fine by me, and would encourage me to get a service on my own!

Just trying to save money even if the companies don't want us to :/

Unfortunately GV calls a random number (others have referred to it as a redirect number) to access their system. So it does still use your minutes. Sorry!

I'm always scared to leave sensitive info in my Pearl. It's so easy to lose the little guy and the data inside, for everyone that finds it. This app is really what I need.

When you get incoming calls, can you see whether or not the person calling is dialing into your Google Voice number or the native device number? I'd like to have an app that does that to know when someone is calling a business or personal line.

There is an option in the settings of the web version of GV. You can set it to display your GV number on caller ID instead of the caller's number. Settings -> Calls -> Caller ID (In)

This post is a lot more detailed than I thought it would be. I'm not a hands free kinds guy, but I guess if I had Google Voice, that would change.

ive been using GV since it was grand central and it's very cool. i use the 'call me' widget on my websites that allows the website visitor to enter their phone number and gv connects them to me for free! i get called and can decide if i want to take the call or let it go to to either my cell or gv voicemail. it's so cool... really. you can read about it here and it's free!!

I love GV. I am slowly changing over my personal contacts to use that number since I am on a work issued phone. I don't make to many calls out and don't even have the app installed at the moment after the last OS reload. I find that having GV send me an email when I have a voicemail is faster and more efficient than using the app. When I get a VM the text is in the email along with a link to the recording which I can open/play on my BB.

I signed up for an invite not sure if I would even use GV. I absolutely do. I now have unlimited texting and transcribed email all for free. Plus the fact I can text from my computer is great too. No more sneakily texting at work.

Does anyone have an invite left? I'd love to try this service out. My email is phys1c5 at walla dot com. Thanks!

I really only use my google voice for the ringing of skpye and my cellphone so that when I am at home I can answer it with skype and save myself the anytime minutes.

The SMS and VM features are cool but I really don't use them.

Also, I think the app on the blackberry is just annoying. I am not switching away from using my blackberry built in features. I bought the blackberry for a reason.

- The voice recognition is pretty bad at translating your v-mails into text.
- Does not work very well on storm2. The program does not work well with the touchscreen.
- there were more but now i forgot.

I run a small, personal, non-official computer repair business in my city, and Google Voice is quite helpful.

My method of advertising is a business card and signs on street corners, so it's obvious that I don't want to give out my personal phone number. Coincidently, I had just received my Google Voice invite, and I took advantage of it by creating a separate number for folks to call. I can set up a business-specific voicemail greeting, and I can also set it to show the Google Voice number instead of the caller, that way I can set my phone to show "Customer" instead of their number.

It's very useful since I don't require saving any contacts or stuff like that.

Yeah, people are right when they say the app kinda sucks. Keep in mind that it's a new venture and that it will improve over time. Judging by how much I love their products, I believe this app will become better and better over time.

As for now, visual voice mail for free is pretty amazing! Like a few others, I only use GV because of that feature. I also changed my number on Facebook to my GV number, that way in case it should happen to get into the wrong hands I can block the number. Such a great feature... to be able to completely block someone from calling and/or block them from leaving voice mail. If they call your native device number though, you can only block the voice mail aspect, not the call.

Excuse the off-topic question...does anyone have an idea where to get the green desktop background/wallpaper from? Thanks in advance

I have a Storm 1 (9530) on Verizon. I keep trying to download the app, but I keep getting the "device not supported" message. I saw one of the posts about using Firefox for the download, but their website says it isn't available for blackberry. I downloaded Opera Mini and tried to download the app, but I still got the dreaded "device not supported" message. Thanks for the help.

I have been using this service since it was "Grand Central" before google even bought it. Since google took over I love it. I can now send and recieve texts via google voice (though I do wish for mms, I'm sure there are technical ramifications in that area), I love that with my blackberry I can instantly recieve an email with a transcription of the voicemail that was left. That option is astounding (it may not be perfect and dead on but you can usually guess what the person was saying).

I have been using the google voice app for bb since the day it came out. This app is great. Before the only way to send a text via google voice was to log your internet onto the mobile site, select the contact, click the sms link, and then type it, and wait for your phones web browser to send it.

Now I can easily scroll through my address book, and select "send sms" or "send sms via google voice" depending on the contact.

The app also stores your recent call log, wether it be somebody that called your google voice number, or somebody who called your real phone number.

I do wish that you could have the app refresh instantly, instead of every 5 minutess.

I used to have a lot of issues with the app working properly, not wanting to call out the first time, or not sending sms, until I realized it was my shitty carrier's internet service in my area. I went to another area where service was better and found it worked seemlessly.

I also like that now the app stores my Voice Mails, almost like a visual voicemail, this is great for those of us with older blackberries that don't want an app for GV and the youmail app.

All in all, there are a few things google could catch up on. MMS would be a plus. More seemless transition would be great. But other than a few minor things that need worked on, it's a great service and a great app.

I for one am in sales, and did used to fight the hell of giving customers your cell number. Now I only give my google voice number, which screens my calls, and allows me so much more power over them.

In retrospect, the ability to forward more than one google voice number to your phone would be amazing. As of right now I have 2 google voice numbers, and I can only use 1 at a time

i have been on the waiting list for almost a year for a number, if anyone has an extra invite they could hook me up with that would be awsome. Thank You

I may be accused of many things, but not of placing high value on humanity. How about a high value on science and reason? They’re often good places to start. Neither religion nor belief in a “higher power” keep one from getting too arrogant; a good education, however, can. When you learn enough and learn how to reason well, it can help reinforce just how little we really do know. That can prevent one from being so pompous as to assume they know it all.