I’ve been using Google Voice for a long time but it was only a few months ago that I really started getting the most out of the service. It comes packed with so many great features, it’s hard to believe it’s remained free this long. The benefit of having one number to ring all your phones, personalized greetings for different people, and even the ability to block unwanted callers. If you want a crash course on how Google Voice can help you, check out their video introductions. Over time people have developed greats ways to to streamline Google Voice across devices. I’ve managed to set up Google Voice across my Mac, iPad, and iPhone, the holy trinity of devices.
On the Mac.
Bringing Google Voice to the Mac. This is where a very handy app called Growl Voice comes in. It’s a fully featured menubar app that allows you to send and receive SMS, listen to voicemails, and although you can’t actually make a call you can initiate one. It’s available on the App Store for for 4.99. Another great way to take advantage of Google Voice on the Mac is by creating a Google Voice app using Fluid. This will allow you to work with Google Voice from a standalone application and you can even use it to make calls through Gmail. Combine that with a pair of awesome Jaybird SB2′s and you have a very comfortable calling experience. Trust me, I do it all the time ;-].
On the iPad.
iMessage is great but it’s limited only to people with and iOS device. Google Voice isn’t. The first thing you need to do is jailbreak your iPad. Currently you can jailbreak iOS 5.1.1 using Absinthe. The process is ridiculously easy (literally plug and play) so you should have little trouble installing Cydia. Next you need to install iFile from Cydia which will allow you to access many of the system files on your device. Upon launching iFile you’re going to tap on the upper left until you reach the root directory. Then follow the path below:
Now tap and open the plist file in text viewer. You’ll see a list of functions in alphabetical order using the format below. Add the function to the list and make sure the list stays in alphabetical order. This will enable the SMS function in the messages app. Respring.
After this respring and SMS should be enabled on your ipad. The next step is to install the official Google Voice App from the App Store. Once it’s downloaded sign in (this is crucial). Next you want to install the SMS GV Extension and BiteSMS from Cydia. After you’ve done this enter you’re Google Voice information in the SMS GV Extension options which can be found in the settings app. Make sure to go into the receive options and turn on “Official GV App”. Now open BiteSMS, go into it’s settings, and in “more stuff” you have the option of changing the icon to match the regular messages app if you wish to do so. Now just make sure you have an internet connection and you can message to your hearts content ^_^.
On the iPhone.
This iPhone is where Google Voice really shines. Being able to fully integrate the service into the iPhone has been a long sought feature and with a few steps you can now do so. First you need to jailbreak your iPhone. As I mentioned earlier you can jailbreak iOS 5.1.1 using Absinthe. Next you need to install the official Google Voice App from the app store. Again, just like the iPad, once it’s downloaded you need to sign in (this is crucial). Now proceed to install both the SMS GV Extension, Phone GV Extension, and BiteSMS from Cydia. Enter your Google Voice information in the options for both the GV extensions. Make sure to go into the receive options for the SMS Extension and turn on “Official GV App”. Now open BiteSMS, go into it’s settings, and in “more stuff” you have the option of changing the icon to match the regular messages app if you wish to do so. Respring. Enjoy :-].
Powering Google Voice
Having a great service to supplement with Google Voice is crucial. I was with At&t for two years and they were great but close to 120 dollars a month got old fast. I started shopping around for a better service and found quite a few providers that could substitute but lacked full functionality. Then I heard about a no-contract prepaid service called Straight Talk. They’re a Mobile Virtual Network operator (MVNO) that piggybacks on AT&T and T-Mobile networks for GSM support. This means that even if your iPhone isn’t factory unlocked you can still use the service. They even make it easy to switch by offering Micro Sims compatible with At&t iPhones. The best part is Straight Talk features an unlimited plan for 45 dollars a month and since it’s a reload service you can pay up front for up to a year at a time! I was skeptical at first but after using it I highly recommend it as an alternative to other providers. If you choose to go with Straight Talk you will need to jailbreak your iPhone and install TetherMe or any other extension from Cydia that enables you to edit the APN settings and modify you’re APN Settings as follows:
APN – att.mvno
APN – att.mvno
APN – att.mvno
MMS Proxy – proxy.mvno.tracfone.com
Finally, to fully integrate Google Voice you’ll want to replace your regular voicemail with Google Voicemail. This way when someone calls your regular number they’re still sent to your Google Voicemail, you’re personalized greetings will function as if they were calling your GV Number, and best of all, unwanted callers you’ve blocked still get that sweet sweet message. Do all this and you’ll have a streamlined experience with Google Voice across your Mac, iPad, and iPhone.
Disclaimer: If you unlock, modify, or jailbreak your iOS device, you’re doing so at your own risk.