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.

90+ Days Without Voice Service

It’s been well over 90 days since I last paid AT&T for voice service on my cell phone and started using an iPad SIM and a SIP solution to make calls from my iPhone. Things have been good, great in fact., that is until I recently ran into a major issue with my setup. A brief recap, I use Google Voice for my phone number, I then have a SIP number setup with IPKall which is connected to my account, which in turn is setup with Acrobits Softphone on my iPhone.

Last week, for whatever reason, IPKall let someone else register the same number as me. So randomly my phone wouldn’t ring through, or if I didn’t pick up when someone called, the caller would ring through to this other guy. Kind of a major issue.

After some back and forth with IPKall, I got a notification from Google Voice that someone using the same number as me had successfully added it  to their Google Voice account. Great.

At this point instead of trying to resolve things with the folks at IPKall who were being less than helpful, I called up the guy who had registered my number and explained the situation.  Oddly enough he used my own tutorial to setup his account, in the end he was very understanding and we eventually got the number transfered back to me. I should note that the number I registered in the tutorial is not actually the number I’ve been using from IPKall, so this guy had no way of purposely registering the same number as me.

Now I’m looking for a more reliable SIP number provider, even if I have to pay a few bucks a month I think it’d be worth it to ensure that my number doesn’t randomly get handed out to someone else. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know in the comments.

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.