Using Google Voice with your Existing Telephone Handsets

I’m sure there are a large number of ways to take whatever old analog handsets you having sitting around and use them with Google Voice, but most of them require things like setting up your own PBX server. Which could make for a fun weekend project if you’re a major geek, but chances are most people would rather use something a little more straight forward. Enter devices like the Ooma Telo ($199-249), which I’ve recently started using for my office phone.

It’s an absolutely fantastic device and very easy to use. The really nice thing about the Ooma Telo is that it comes with a whole new phone number, so setting it up is as simple as adding that number to your Google Voice account. Ooma also offers some additional nifty features like Instant Second Line, Multi-ring, and Call Blocking for a monthly subscription of $9.99. A 60-day free trial of Ooma Premier is included with the Telo.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a little cheaper, you might consider the Obihai Obi110 ($49.99) or the Obi100 ($43.99), both are great solutions for integrating your existing phone handsets into Google Voice. These devices use the actual SIP calling function that was added to Google Talk/Gmail last year.

Google Owns My Soul

For years I’ve been giving Google unfettered access to my email and my search history without giving it much thought. And over the course of the past couple years, I’ve continually kept giving them more and more access… That brings us to today, when I finally came to the realization that Google really does own my soul. That is assuming my soul is comprised of personal information, browsing habits, etc.

Let me break it down for you:

  • Each morning at 5am my company website sends an updated list of products that we have in stock to Google Base to get listed in Google Shopping.  Google now knows what products my company likes to carry as well as how quickly we sell said products.
  • My company uses Google Analytics, not only to track our corporate website, but our clients websites as well. Google now has access to very detailed information about how popular my websites are and  just who’s visiting them.
  • The afore mentioned company also uses Google Places to attempt to draw in new business. This one isn’t that big of a deal, since it doesn’t really increase Google’s access to information about my company. I’m just trying to be thorough.
  • Each of my sites generates a Google SiteMap.  Making it even easier for Google to catalog every little page on my websites, even some that I may have forgotten about.
  • All my websites that run advertisements run Google AdSense. Now I rely on Google to get paid.
  • I use Gmail for my personal email. Google gets to scan through my entire life and contextually provide ads to me. Yay?
  • I also use Google Apps for my business. Which includes the occasional Google Doc upload of a spreadsheet or presentation. Potentially giving Google access to sensitive company information. As well as Google Calendar, which lets them know where I’ll be and when I’ll be there.
  • Several of my ventures use Google Voice numbers for texting and calling. Google has access to an archive of my text messages and voicemails.
  • When I subscribe to an RSS feed I do it through Google Reader, so that my RSS feed reader on my laptop, desktop, phone, and iPad all get the same feed. Guess what? Google gets some solid feedback on what kind of blogs/articles I read.
  • If I record and upload a video it usually goes to YouTube, I also watch movie trailers and the like on YouTube. All the sudden Google knows whether or not I watched Rebecca Black’s “Friday” music video, and if so, if I watched the whole thing.
  • I often use Google Maps to get directions. Now Google knows where I’m planning on visiting, which new restaurant I’m likely eating at, and where my Uncle Phil’s house is.
  • Did I mention that I have an Android phone? Making it even easier for me to continue to use Google products in my day to day life. If I use the Barcode Scanner app to check the price of something, Google instantly knows what I’m out shopping for.
  • And last, but not least, I use Google for 99% of my internet searches. If Google didn’t already know what things I’m interested in, they do now.
  • Oh, and I use Google Chrome to do all my web browsing.

Don’t worry, there’s still more I can do to give away my life to Google. For example, I could start using Google Latitude, or start accepting Google Checkout on my company’s store, maybe use Picasa to start sharing family photos. Or actually update that Google Buzz account of mine… nah, that’ll never happen.

[Note: I’m sure I’m using even more Google services and not realizing it, so I may update this list at a later date]

Answer Google Voice Calls in Gmail

So you’ve been having a grand old time making phone calls from Gmail, but maybe you’re like me and you’d like to actual answer incoming calls in Gmail. Good news, Google’s got you covered and it’s really simple to setup.

Here’s how to enable it:

Step 1: Login to your Google Voice account.

Step 2: Click Settings, and select Voice settings.


It should automatically load to your Phones tab, at the bottom of your “Forward to” list you should now have a Google Chat option, just check the box next to it and you’re good to go.

You’ll now get a Caller ID like popup when you have an incoming call, and of course you can also answer the call from within your browser now.

Tip: You can also transfer calls from your Gmail to your regular phone by pressing * while in a call. This works to transfer calls from your phone to Gmail as well.

Making a Phone Call in Gmail

The recently rumored voice calling option is already live on all of my Gmail accounts, not sure if everyone else is seeing it, or if users with existing Google Voice accounts got it added automatically. At any rate, voice calling works fairly well. Though in my tests people on the other end complained of frequent static even though I could hear them just fine.

All my out going calls showed up as coming from my Google Voice number, so I’m making the assumption that you’ll need to have a Google Voice account for this to work.

Continue reading Making a Phone Call in Gmail

Google Adding VoIP to Gmail? [Updated]

After Google bought GrandCentral everyone expected them to release a desktop VoIP application, didn’t happen. Then Google bought Gizmo5, which was basically a VoIP desktop application, now everyone thinks it’s a sure fire thing. Again, nothing. And now there’s a rumor that Google is adding VoIP to Gmail. Please, oh, please be true.

Sure, you already have a Google Voice account and can just login to Google Voice to make a phone call or even install a browser plugin/extension to add the ability to turn any phone number into a callable hotlink. But think how convenient it would be to just login to Gmail every morning, like you already do, and see a popup with missed calls, voicemails, etc. and have the ability to return those calls from within that browser window and, best part, use your internet connection to make the call.

This would seem to be a no-brainer move for Google, but then again, I thought adding Gizmo5 functionality to their GoogleTalk client was a no-brainer move as well. The rumor claims that you’ll be able to call the US and Canada for free, with the option to purchase international call time for “insanely low rates”. Seems plausible.



Where’d this rumor start you ask? CNet’s Tom Krazit posted yesterday saying they received the tip along with a couple screenshots (see above). Google’s official comment on this rumor?

Google is always testing new features and products, but we have nothing specific to announce right now.

Thanks, that’s really helpful. Stay tuned for updates, hopefully we’ll see this confirmed in the coming weeks.

Note: For what it’s worth, the 415 area code is the San Franciso area, just down the street from Mountain View, CA and the Googleplex.

Update: That didn’t take long, Engadget says Google has made it official.

And it looks like it’s already available on my account.