Saturday, January 28, 2012

How To: Use GrooVe IP & Google Voice to Make & Receive Free Calls to the US

Use Google Voice & GrooVe IP to make and receive free calls while in Vietnam!
 So if you are like me and have family and friends back home in the US but are currently living (or vacationing) in Vietnam then you want an easy and inexpensive way to call your loved ones for free... well almost free.  A lot of people already know about GrooVe IP and Google Voice and have successfully used it to their advantage.

If you are not familiar with these services here is a quick rundown.
Google Voice
Google Voice gives you one number for all your phones -- a phone number that is tied to you, not to a device or a location. Use Google Voice to simplify the way you use phones, make using voicemail as easy as email, customize your callers' experience, and more.
Google Voice isn't a phone service, but it lets you manage all of your phones. Google Voice works with mobile phones, desk phones, work phones, and VoIP lines. There's nothing to download, upload, or install, and you don't have to make or take calls using a computer.
Google Voice will let you define which phones ring, based on who's calling, and even let you ListenInTM on voicemail before answering the call. We use smart technology to route your calls. So, if you're already on a Google Voice call, we'll recognize it and use call waiting to reach you on the phone you're on.

GrooVe IP
This app, in conjunction with Google Voice, lets you make unlimited calls to any phone in the U.S. or Canada using the data connection of your mobile device (including Wi-Fi and/or 3G,4G) without using your mobile minutes. Once you get a free public phone number from Google Voice, use this app to make or receive calls to/from anyone in the world.

There are a few things you should make note of before we get started.
  • GrooVe IP and Google Voice are for the most part US only, but that doesn't mean it won't work for you (Canada) as there are workarounds which I will not be discussing.
  • The GrooVe IP Android app is $4.99 on the Android Market and Amazon Marketplace.  However, sometimes it is on sale.
  • The Google Voice app is completely free.
  • You can use Google Voice in conjunction with Gmail to make 100% free calls within the US on a PC.  No need to buy GrooVe IP, but will need to use a VPN while abroad.  More info here.
  • I will be explaining the method of using an Android device with GrooVe IP and Google Voice to make and receive free calls to the US.
  • It's best to complete the following process before you leave to Vietnam (or some other place abroad).  It is possible to set up after the fact but again, your mileage may vary.
  • You can use Wi-Fi or 3G (mobile data) to place and receive calls using GrooVe IP.  This is strictly an internet ONLY thing.
  • You can use the Google Voice app to send and receive an unlimited number of SMS messages to phones in the US.
OK, now that we are familiar with the services we will be using lets get started.

The Google Voice website interface settings icon.
  1. Using your desktop or laptop computer go to the Google Voice website and sign up for a new account using your existing Gmail account.  You will be asked to pick a new phone number to be associated with your new GV account.  You will also need to confirm your current telephone number (hence easier if you are already in the US).  Congratulations you now have completed the most difficult step in the process :)
  2. While logged into your GV account click on the settings icon (cog on the right hand side of the page) and select "Settings".  Under the "Phones" tab make sure Google Chat is checked.  Since we will be using this to mainly call and receive calls from abroad/online only you can uncheck the other options.
  3. On your android device go to the market of your choice and download the Google Voice app and the GrooVe IP app.  Open the Google Voice app first and log in using your credentials.  You can test the functionality by sending a text message to a friend or family member.  If your friend/family received the message then so far so good.
  4. Open the GrooVe IP app and sign in using your Google Voice/Gmail credentials.  Once it successfully signs in and the little GrooVe IP icon in the taskbar turns green then you are ready to rock 'n roll.  You can also click the menu button while in the GrooVe IP app and setup the app to your liking.
  5. You can place a test call at this point to make sure everything is setup correctly.  Be aware that the quality of the call depends on many factors including the quality of the internet connection you are using.
The GrooVe IP dialer.
So now you should have a working Google Voice number in connection with GrooVe IP that will allow you to make and receive calls to the US from anywhere around the world as long as you are connected to the internet and running the GrooVe IP software.  Here are some other tips to help you along.

  • If you are like me and are using or going to use 3G while in Vietnam (how to here) then I suggest you check the "Allow 3G/4G Calling" within the GrooVe IP app.  I have successfully placed/received calls using Viettel 3G, so I don't think they have any restrictions on VoIP while on their 3G network.  I would have to assume Vinaphone and others would be the same.
  • The GrooVe IP app has its own dialer!  Use this dialer when making calls to the US.
  • You can use this on any android device as long as it has a mic and speaker (tablets).  Although, I think you'll more likely suffer from the "I can hear myself speak" syndrome.
  • Don't forget to give your loved ones your new number!
  • You can also call to other countries and are not limited to the US.  You will need to add funds to your Google Voice number however.  You can check rates here.
  • Finally all this working or not is at your OWN RISK, YMMV, etc etc... most people have successfully used these services however there are those who have expressed their frustration with it not working.  I figure at $4.99 for the app (or free if you are only going to use a PC) it's well worth it.
  • Google Voice is a great service on its own.
  • For more information, FAQ and more tips visit the official GrooVe IP website.
Well there you have it.  If I missed something or if you have any other tips please feel free to express yourself in the comments.


  1. Replies
    1. @bukzin

      Thank you for visiting/reading.

  2. This tutorial seems to be out dated. You can done this job with easly without paying. And its work with all you SIP devices or Software!

    You can find most usefull tricks and tips on my blog

  3. You can do the same thing with the TalkATone app and its free.