Get More Out of Your Mobile Number with Google Voice

By Adam Zeis on 14 Dec 2009 10:04 am EST

For years I stuck with the mobile number I was issued way back in 1996 when I purchased my first cell phone. I never thought of switching carriers, and I was happy to know that everyone that needed to contact me could do so easily. About a year ago after my BlackBerry addiction started to overtake me full-time, I realized that having a CDMA carrier number that wasn't easily portable wasn't the best thing. I thought about it for a while, and as the idea of carting around multiple devices all day didn't appeal to me, I decided to finally give up my roots and give Google Voice a shot. I had registered with the service ages ago, but left the number untouched for months. Now was the time to make it mine and spread my new number to the few people that actually call me.

First off you have to have a Google Voice invite, but they seem to be readily available through friends these days, so finding on shouldn't be too hard. Once you get the "I've changed my number" emails out of the way, Google Voice can be your best friend and help you get more from your device (and life if you want to go that far). Over the weekend I stumbled across this article from Gizmodo that made me realize that Google Voice really is as good as it gets. Using a Google Voice number lets you swap between any number of devices, the only requirement being to have the Google Voice app installed on the device. Incoming calls will get forward to one or more devices, and using the app, outgoing calls will show your Google Voice number (as opposed to the acutal number of the device). Unlimited free SMS, the best voicemal around, text transcription for voicemail and an awesomely controllable web-based control panel to control it all. You can screen calls, block numbers and more.

Of course with all of this glory there are still a few downsides. Thus far, there is no MMS with Google Voice. This doesn't mean that any MMS sent to you will come in an email, it means that the sender will reveive an error telling them your number is invalid. Big problem. The SMS is far from perfect as well - mesages will show in the application (after a refresh) but when coming into the device, will appear to be from a random number not associated with any contacts. The plus side is that they are all neatly stored on your account, allowing you to archive, delete and even send an SMS from the web. The Google Voice app also has to dial an access number before completing your call, which at times doesn't always want to connect and can also be a big problem. The dialer on your device is still the default, so if you fail to dial a contact through the app the device number and not your Google Voice number will appear. You have to either dial directly from the application, or when in your contacts list choose the "Call with Google Voice" option. My wishlist for the holiday season is that Google gets with it and fixes up the app (the best they can given the OS limitations on the device) to make these issues go away. I can deal with having to dial contacts using a menu option, but I really need MMS (for my slow-adopting friends) and a better SMS implementation would be nice too. A side note (that should have been included from the start) is that the BlackBerry AutoText doesn't work withing the app for SMS, making you realize how much you rely on AutoText on your device.

Overall I feel that if you choose to adopt a Google Voice number to stick with you from here on out you will never look back. It can change the way you use your phone in ways you never new possible. It streamlines your communication, and makes things overall easier and more organized. In the coming weeks we'll take a look at the app and run through a complete setup and usage for BlackBerry devices, but for now I'll say if you haven't checked out Google Voice in the past you should definitely give it a go. Drop a comment and let us know your thoughts. Are you a happy Google Voice user? What would you like to see fixed up to make it even better? Have you not adopted the Google way for reasons of your own? Let us know!


Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

Get More Out of Your Mobile Number with Google Voice


Been using Google Voice for a few months now, love the fact I can call home from the US to the UK for $0.02 / min on my Blackberry..Just wish we could text international but very impressed with the call quality over Cellular as well as wireless.

I'm a big fan of GV. It makes checking work and personal VM much easier. I also no longer mind giving out my number because I just give out my GV number.

I agree with inspector6. I've been following the Google Voice idea for a while and hoping to get myself a number. I've got the invitation even sitting in my inbox. The only issue is, it doesn't work my with 250 Canadian number. I can't wait until they make it available here. The video is so inspiring! Thanks for another great delivery, Adam.

I live in Ontario and I got my invite way back in July, got it pretty fast after signing up. Sucks that I can't use it though...very upsetting. I hope they expand soon.

It has lots of potential but the app is pretty much useless to me. Plus, if people are "in" your network you don't want them using the GV number as it won't be a 'free' call.

My primary use for the number is that I have it ring my cell and Skype so when I am at home I can use Skype to answer certain calls instead of my AT&T "lets drop the call everytime."

I love GV, but I wish I could make it always call from my GV number instead of my carrier issued one like you can on the Android OS. I rarely go into my contact list to call someone, I generally just start typing their name. Also, Sensobi doesn't support it =\

I wish that they made it easier to dial people and the app on the storm is pretty weak. It should have better integration with your contacts. I also wish that I could mask the number as a verizon number so that all incoming and outgoing would be within the network. I don't want to pay for the friends and family plan only to not use the minutes. Also, youmail, which I previously had, would instantly alert me of new messages and was included in my alert profiles.

I was on youmail for a couple of years. Switched to google voicemail (not google voice) so I'm still using my same mobile number with google voicemail.

It rocks. Way better than youmail.

Google Voice becomes useless as soon as you realize it doesn't use mobile to mobile minutes since it dials an access number that is not on your network. Thus, I would be using up my minutes big time. Great technology, limited use.

If you sync your bb contacts with google you will see them in your GV call log. Also, predictive text(OS 5.0) works wIth the SMS

"The Google Voice app also has to dial an access number before completing your call, which at times doesn't always want to connect and can also be a big problem. The dialer on your device is still the default, so if you fail to dial a contact through the app the device number and not your Google Voice number will appear. You have to either dial directly from the application, or when in your contacts list choose the "Call with Google Voice" option."

The third-party app GV-Dialer ($10) did solve these issues with their application. Discontinued now since Apple didn't play nicely and Google's app is free.

I recently downloaded the gv app. I didn't have it before and would simply call my gv# to make calls out through it. Gv is great. Autotext would be nice. Its a free service but I would gladly pay for it. Hope google doesn't read that.

since it seems that all of you have google voice..

is it possible for someone to invite me so I can see what it is all about?

thanks :)

I have GV but never use it. It seems that I use my cell phone for everything anyway and never get calls anywhere else. My job does unified messaging, so if I do get a voicemail at work, I get it in email on my Blackberry and can listen to it there.

My wife and i have the T-Mobile Even More Plus plan with unlimited minuets... i have my number & she has her number. Then we use the Google voice number as our "home number".. .. .. It's 100% free and doesn't burn any of our "unlimited minuets"....

I have it in my VZW shared numbers. So when people call my GV num or i dial out using the GV app, is this considered free air time?

and I agree with the reviewer who said that the in-app SMS was lousy, but the web interface is great and I still use it to send myself stuff for OTA download.

Now that I have changed plans and have unlimited SMS, I don't use GV as much. I also no longer have My Faves, so I cannot add the GV number as a MyFave.

But I can see this being real handy if I want to call someone and mask my real number.

I also sometimes use the GV number on forms that require a phone number and I don;t want to give out my real number.

I liked the GV Dialer app and was thrown under the bus by Google when they suspended development on it. The GV app for BlackBerry is just not as good as the Dialer app, and you cannot outdial to GV from the call log, which I find ridiculous.

So lots of improvements can be made. Still, it is a kick ass service. Like some others here, I use YouMail for voicemail rather than GV.

When I'm in a meeting and I get a call, I feel comfortable letting it go to VM because I know it will soon come to me as a speech to text transcript. It's far from perfect yet, but it always conveys the general gist of the message, so I know if I need to step out of the meeting to call the person back. I can also forward their message back to them with an email reply without leaving the meeting. Many of the other features are also great, but I'll limit this comment to vm.

I've been using it since it was Grand Central and have really liked the service. I love that I can switch phones using it, so I can move from home to cell while still in the same call. Voicemail transcription is a nice added feature (funny sometimes to see what it transcribes) and having it download to my phone automatically is a great feature.

For me, Google Voice rocks! I have a small side business and have set up my GV number specifically for that. So now I can do everything on my one BlackBerry and have personal and business matters separated by phone numbers, voicemail boxes, SMS boxes, etc.

I love but haven't been able to embrace b/c when it forwards to my work phone it hijacks my voice mail somehow. Also, it rings for ever, I wish I could customize how long b/f it goes to VM

What's the difference between Google Voice and Toktumi? If they are a similar type of service, is one better than the other, and how/why?

I'm considering a new small business venture that would keep me on the go a lot, so a cell phone with a means of a second number, voice mail, email, SMS,ect. all with one device would be perfect.

First, I was very happy, to have such convenient service as Google Voice!
And then I've find out that - THE MAIN PROBLEM that I have with Google Voice in my BB Tour, is that it stops working suddenly, and very often - by unknown reason. It usually happens when I restart my BB, or after I came up from subway. And it's not just application, but the whole Google Voice service :( - nobody can't reach me on my GV number, they just hear my voice mail massage. At the same time my Verizon's number always works (if I'm not underground).
I've even noticed, that if the network is not on 1XEV, or it falls from 1EV to 1X frequently - there's big possibility that my Google Voice number will be dead. Even worse, my personal voice greeting shots down, and the person who's calling me hears "The Google Voice Number you're trying to reach is unavailable" - but not my greeting :( :( :(
Summarizing all these "dropped call" problems, I can just tell that Google Voice UNRELIABLE. And it's sad :( ..... I just received my new business cards, and the one of the numbers there is GV number :(
Guys, maybe some one knows why it happens ???

Too bad it is by invite only.....would love to have been able to set-up an account now. We'll see how long the wait is.

The GV app will not load the history on my tour.
It worked fine since they first launched it but in the past few weeks it has not.
Any ideas? or anyone with the same issue?

Started using the GV # and liked the second line on my cell. Then had to rest my storm to default and now the GV app states, "Device is not supported". Would like to get the app back on my storm.

I love that you can set groups so each group gets a different message or one group can announce who is calling, another doesn't have to, etc..

One thing I don't care for is that when I dial through the GV app I do not see the number of the person I am calling, instead I see the number that my phone needs to dial to use the GV service. I can't seem to find a fix for this. I know it seems odd, but I like to see the number of the person I am calling :)

you can actually fix the problem of not knowing whos texting you by downloading google sync and syncing your address book to goole or save your contacts online