As I’m about to travel the world, I was searching for an innovative, long term and cost effective way to keep my current US phone number without sacrificing SMS ability. First, I looked at phone forwarding service, most of them don’t have SMS functionalities and they charge more than what I want to pay. Then I found Google Voice.
I used Google Voice once before (3 years ago) as an attempt to have custom voicemail message. At that time, I didn’t make full use of it so I dropped the service. As of right now, I find it very useful and I know it’s going to be greater in a few months when Google intergrates everything (calling, texting, chat, video chat) into Google Hangout. In my opinion, right now is the best time to make use of Google Voice, and it gets better within a few months. For now, I use 2 iPhone apps for texting and calling.
My iPhone apps for Google Voice:
Hangout: For making and receiving calls. Hangout app for iPhone is the only app that can receive calls. Other apps for Google Voice are depreciated and won’t notify you when there is a phone call to your number. I’m sure more functions will be added to this app soon as Google is making a move to throw away Google Voice and make Google Hangout the only software for all communication functionalities, including SMS and voicemails. You can see here and here for some more information.
GV Mobile + 3 for Google Voice: For sending and receiving texts, missed calls notifications, managing voicemails. This app seems to be the best at handling everything else that Hangout currently isn’t able to do. It is an inconvenient to have to use 2 iPhone apps for calling and texting, but this is the best option nonetheless.
Google’s future move to make Hangout app an all in one communication tool will be a great convenient for me as I will only need to use Hangout for US communication.
Understand the Limitation and Solution:
There is one restriction of Google Voice. If you are outside of the US, you can’t make Internet phone call from your smart phone to US phone number, and incoming calls won’t be notified to your smart phone. If you use computer to make and receive calls from oversea, you’ll be fine. The reason for the restriction is to. It is a huge inconvenience if you like to make and receive calls from your smart phone like normal. Gladly, I found a workaround for this!
Google Voice detects users location via IP address. Therefore, if you have an United States IP address for your smart phone, you can call and receive calls as if you are in the United States. For that, you can use a free or paid VPN (Virtual Private Network). A Virtual Private Network service will allow your computer and smart phone to constantly have an United States IP address, at the same time encrypts your transmitted data no matter how untrustworthy your current public wifi is. Google will now allow you to use full functionalities of Google Voice knowing that you have an United States IP address.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any question!