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Your iPad’s a Telephone With Google Voice

Out of the box, Apple has you covered on your iPad 2 with FaceTime for video chat with your friends, family and colleagues, so long as they have a FaceTime capable device and a Wi-Fi connection. But let’s face it, not everybody is on FaceTime, and certainly not constantly near a Wi-Fi hot spot. If all you want to do is replicate a phone connection, Google Voice along with a couple of native iOS apps may be just what you’re looking for.

What You Need

Google Voice Account. If you’re not already part of Google Voice, simply log into your Google account and sign-up for Google Voice (google.com/voice, but it’s U.S. only as of this writing). It will walk you through the sign-up process, including setting up a new number.

GV Connect. Google’s strategy for the iPad, including Google Voice, appears to be limited to Safari apps only. Google offers an official iOS-native Google Voice client for the iPhone, but GV Connect is a better option, as it has full support iPad support.

Talkatone. Neither the Safari interface that Google offers, nor GV Connect will make VOIP calls from your iOS device. To enable that functionality, you need to download and install the free, ad-supported Talkatone app.  Yes, this is an iPhone app, but you can control it from the iPad-friendly GV Connect interface.

How to Make a Phone Call

Once you have a Google Voice account, download and install both the GV Connect and Talkatone clients on your iPad, and set up each with your Google Voice account information. Then, in GV Connect, do the following:

  1. Under Settings, set the Start Calls From setting to Google Talk.
  2. Enable the Call using Talkatone setting.
  3. Click on the telephone handset icon in the upper left corner to place a call.

While you are controlling your Google Voice account from within GV Connect, the VOIP call is actually being handled by Talkatone. Talkatone does claim to allow calls over 3G, but the quality of those calls are dependent on the network. I’ve only used it while connected via Wi-Fi.

How to Receive a Phone Call

To direct all your incoming calls to be received on your iPad. In GV Connect on your iPad, do the following:

  1. Under Settings, set the Call Forwarding setting to Google Talk.
  2. Make sure you are logged in to your Google Account in Talkatone.
  3. Wait for an incoming call.

It’s that easy; just make sure you’re not logged in to Google Talk anywhere else. I tend to use the stock earbuds to avoid looking like a fool with the iPad pressed against my face, but unfortunately, Bluetooth headsets aren’t fully supported by either Apple or Talkatone. I have yet to completely dedicate my Google Voice account to exclusive iPad-only calling, but I’d love to hear from you if you end up using the solution described above as a total home or cell phone replacement.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (subscription req’d):

Google Voice Arrives on iPhones with HTML5-Powered Webapp [Webapps]

iPhone/Palm Pre: Apple and/or AT&T don't want the Google Voice service to have its own iPhone app, and we think that stinks. Google is finally releasing the next best thing: a mobile site that basically replicates a dedicated Google Voice app.

The big advantage of Google’s new Voice app (which is already showing up for Voice users at Lifehacker HQ) is the direct contact access. Rather than having to store secondary numbers or use the somewhat old-school-looking Voice mobile site to pull up your contacts, Google Voice’s new webapp provides super-quick, as-you-type access to your Google Contacts. The interface is similar to what you see when you visit Voice in a full browser, with the same mobile look and feel as Gmail, Reader, and other products have recently received.

When you dial, it's not the familiar experience of having Google Voice call you, then call the other person—it's a direct dial to that person, probably using those same secondary numbers Google seems to have stockpiles of.

You’ll want to make sure your phone’s contacts are synced up with Google if you’re keen on using Google’s Voice app. It’s a free service, and requires a Google Voice account (which we hear they’re giving out more regularly).

If you’re already seeing the new Google Voice app in your iPhone or Pre browser, tell us what you think in the comments.





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Google Voice Chrome Extension Makes Calling and SMS Even Easier [Updates]

Google Chrome: Google Voice Notifier, one of the 18 extensions we loved at launch, has seen a major update. It now converts phone numbers on the web to automatic dialing links, and initiates calls and text messages from a drop-down box.

The extension previously did little more than notify Google Voice users of the number of unread SMS messages and voicemails sitting in their inbox, as well as doing a little spin animation when updated and opening the inbox when clicked. In the new version, nearly any phone number in a recognizable format is converted into a click-able link. Hit that number, and a pop-up box asks you which phone you want to connect to. Oddly enough, it doesn’t work on Google Maps results, where I’d kind of most want that behavior, but does work from Google search results.

The new version also makes starting a call or text message to any of your known contacts very easy. Click the extension button, and a drop-down box with auto-filling fields appears. You can switch between calls and SMS messages easily, and if you click the extension button when you’ve got messages, you get a quick preview of your inbox.

The Google Voice extension is a free download, and works wherever extensions work with Google Chrome at the moment—Mac users will have to use the development channel version in this case. If you already had the extension installed, you should see it update automatically the next time you load up Chrome.

If you’re looking to sign up with Google Voice but don’t have an invite, we hear they’re getting a lot more invites out to those who ask for them.

Google Voice (by Google) [Google Chrome extension gallery via Download Squad]






Googsystray Notifies You of New Activity Across Google Services in One System Tray App [Downloads]

Windows/Linux only: Google has so many different services these days that installing a notification app for each one gets cumbersome quickly. Free system tray utility Googsystray watches Gmail, Google Voice, Calendar, Reader, and Wave so you can set it and forget it.

After installing Googsystray, you can configure which services you want it to watch and what you want it to do for each—upon receiving a new email, SMS, calendar alert, RSS article, or wave, you can have it play a sound and even run a command. The icon of the given service will also pop up in your system tray. Right clicking on it gives you a Growl-style popup with more detailed information about the notification, such as email subject or SMS content. You also have limited actions you can take depending on the service.

Google Voice is the most feature-filled, allowing you to send SMS messages with a hotkey and read voicemail transcripts. You can have Gmail monitor your inbox or specific labels for new messages, as well as mark messages as read, spam, or delete them. Google Calendar support is limited to alerts on upcoming events, and Google Reader can notify you of new RSS articles, although you can tell it to stop notifying you when the number of unread articles reaches a certain point. Google Wave support merely notifies you of new and unread waves, along with a preview.

Googsystray is a free download, works on Windows and Linux (Python and pygtk required for Linux). Thanks, Aldeniszen!

Googsystray [Sourceforge]






Google Voice Gives Users Invitations to Hand Out to Friends [Invitations]

Getting a Google Voice invite has, until now, involved either dropping a request penny down the well, being a legacy GrandCentral user, or knowing someone at Google. Now Google Voice has started giving established users invitations to hand out.

They're being "rolled out gradually," three at a time over the next few weeks, so users can look for them in their account's lower-left corner—and their friends can begin the begging process starting now. If you're new to Google Voice, take a gander at our first look at Google Voice. If you end up with an invite in your inbox soon, then head over to our guide to easing your transition to Google Voice.






Google Voice Growl Pushes SMS Alerts to Your iPhone [Google Voice]

If you’re eager to get Google Voice text messages pushed to your iPhone (so you don’t have to waste texts) but know that’s not likely until Apple stops rejecting Google Voice apps for the iPhone, web service Google Voice Growl can help.

The free service integrates with the previously mentioned Prowl iPhone application to send push updates to your iPhone for virtually any kind of application. Unlike our guide to setting up Prowl with Gmail, this service doesn’t require you to keep a computer running in the background at all times. To get it working, you’ll need to sign in with your Google account, add your Prowl API key (if you’re signed into Prowl on your computer, you can get that key here), then set up a Gmail filter that will forward Google Voice SMS messages to the site’s special email address. It’s a bit convoluted considering how easy it could be if Apple hadn’t killed the official Google Voice app, but it’s a decent workaround. (View the site for the full instructions.)

If you’re concerned about privacy, the site’s developer has put together a pretty comprehensive privacy statement. I set my account up with it earlier today and it works like a charm. I still had Google Voice forwarding new SMS messages to my phone, and the Prowl push notification arrived about a second after the forwarded SMS. If you don't want to pay the extra cash for AT&T's unlimited texting plan, this is certainly a viable workaround.






Google Voice Message Playback Comes to Gmail [Gmail]

If you’re both a Gmail and Google Voice user, you should be thrilled with the latest feature from Gmail Labs: The Google Voice Player feature embeds a voicemail player inside Gmail so you can listen to new messages directly inside Gmail.

To enable it, just hit up the Labs link in Gmail, find the Google Voice player in mail feature, click enable, and save your changes. Now not only can you read your transcribed voicemail from directly inside Gmail—you can listen to it, too. In fact, your message status will even sync to Google Voice, so if you've listened to it in Gmail, it'll show as listened to in Google Voice, too. Handy.






How to Integrate Your Google Apps

Google apps piecesThe information you keep in Google apps like Gmail, GCal, Reader, and Voice doesn’t just live in one place. There are a few easy but non-obvious ways to plug different Google apps together and share their data and features.

Thanks to things like Labs and gadgets, you can get your Calendar in Gmail (and vice versa), Docs in Calendar and Gmail, Profile info in Google Reader, Google Voice SMS in your Gmail, and just about everything on iGoogle. Here’s how.

Read the rest at Lifehacker »

Seven Easy Ways to Integrate Your Google Apps [Google Apps]

The information you keep in Google apps like Gmail, GCal, Reader, and Voice doesn’t just live in one place. Check out a few easy but non-obvious ways to plug different Google apps together and share their data and features.

Get Your Calendar in Gmail

One of the most useful integrations available for Gmail and GCal users, the Google Calendar gadget puts upcoming events on your email sidebar. To turn it on, just enable the Google Calendar gadget in Gmail Labs. Click on the Options link to configure which calendars you want to display events from, and schedule events directly from Gmail using the gadget’s Add link. (Gmail Labs offers lots of other app integrations, like YouTube previews in Gmail, the ability to create a Google Doc from an email conversation, Picasa image previews, Google Docs as well as a Google web search gadget.)

Put Your Gmail Messages on Your Calendar

Gmail Tasks’ killer feature is how it can act as a bridge between your email inbox and your calendar. If you add a Gmail message to your Tasks list (just choose “Add to Tasks” from the “More Actions” drop-down) and add a due date, that task shows up on your Google Calendar on that date. Even if Gmail’s Tasks module isn’t your primary to-do list app, this is an easy way to “schedule” email you don’t need to deal with right now but does have a deadline in the future.

Get Google Docs in Your Calendar and Gmail

Courtesy of Google Calendar Labs, you can easily attach Google Docs to any event—like the batting lineup for the company softball game next week. In GCal's Labs area (in Settings), just enable the "Attach Google Docs" feature.

Gmail has had built-in integration with GDocs since back in 2006; any time you have a Word document or spreadsheet email attachment in a message, Gmail gives you an “Open as a Google Document” link next to it. You can also convert an entire Gmail conversation to a Google Doc by enabling the Gmail Labs’ “Create a Document” feature.

Get Google Profile Feeds in Google Reader

Google’s newish Profiles tool offers an interesting integration into Google Reader: the ability to associate people with the feeds they create. When you configure your Google Profile and enter the web sites where you've set up shop, the feeds available for those sites appear on your profile—as well as in Google Reader. When you're following someone in Google Reader, you can easily see their blog and social network feeds alongside their photo and bio thanks to Google Profiles. From the ever-so-specifically-labeled "Browse for Stuff" section in Google Reader, click on the "People You Follow" tab to browse the folks you care about and subscribe to feeds they're creating.

Get Your Google Voice Text Messages via Gmail

Just this morning the Google Voice team added email integration with your text messages. As Kevin reported, you can now get your GV text messages forwarded to your email (Gmail or not) and respond to them from there, without ever touching your Google Voice tab or your phone.

Get All Your Google Apps on iGoogle

You can't mention integrating Google apps without giving iGoogle a nod. GApps addicts' homepage of choice, iGoogle offers Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Gmail Tasks, and Google Voice gadgets for the ultimate, all-in-one, Google apps jumping-off spot. (In fact, last week during the Gmail outage, iGoogle's Gmail gadget was still working—even when the proper Gmail webapp was down.)

…Not to Mention Integration Add-ons and Your Browser Sidebar

Beyond in-webapp ways to access Google apps data across products, you can also hook up browser extensions like Integrated Gmail or iGoogleBar for Firefox. Alternately, for easy Google apps access no matter what web site you’re on, put your browser’s sidebar to good use.

What other ways do you use one Google app’s data in another? Shout it out in the comments.

Gina Trapani, Lifehacker’s founding editor, likes finding new ways Google Apps inform one another. Her weekly feature, Smarterware, appears every Wednesday on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Smarterware tag feed to get new installments in your newsreader.






Google Voice Adds Email Forwarding and Replies to SMS [SMS]

Google Voice’s web-based SMS inbox is convenient for frequent texters, but it is, after all, another inbox to tend to. Now, however, you can receive, and even reply to, SMS messages through your email address.

That's convenient on a few different levels. The most obvious is that keeping a Google Voice tab open to track your voice and SMS messages during browsing hours is no longer necessary, as Voice can forward you transcribed voicemail messages with audio attachments and, as of late last night, also forward your SMS messages. If you head into your Google Voice "Voicemail & SMS" settings and turn on email forwarding, the messages arrive from a randomized address at txt.voice.google.com, which makes it nice and easy to set up a new label and filter in Gmail and other mail clients to funnel all your SMS into.

The best part of the SMS emails is that you can reply to them from your email inbox, and they’ll appear just as if you’d replied to them from your Google Voice phone number. In Gmail and some other clients, too, that means back-and-forth text messages are wrapped into neat threads, just as they would be on the Google Voice inbox. If you’re serious about a single inbox and have regular email access, you could turn off SMS forwarding to your phone and lower, or eliminate, your unlimited texting plan needs.

The one drawback, at least for neatniks, is that the SMS messages will still sit unarchived in the Google Voice inbox, but if you’re devoted to moving your phone messaging life into one inbox, an occasional Select All, Archive isn’t too much to ask.

Share some of your clever uses of Voice’s SMS-to-email service, or your wishlist for future features (besides, of course, more invites going out) in the comments.






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