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Your iPad’s a Telephone With Google Voice

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Out of the box, Apple (s aapl) 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 (s goog) 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 (, 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.

16 Responses to “Your iPad’s a Telephone With Google Voice”

  1. Damien

    Hey I just got this all running on my iPad. Is there a way to make the iPad ring for incoming calls? All I have is a popup notification on the screen.

  2. Thank you for this tip! I like having a landline because my (previous) cell would drop as you walked in the door (cement and aluminum siding). With 5Ghz N throughout the house, my iPad2 now can allow me to make calls. I can drop my $40/mth landline thanks to this tip. BTW, GVConnect is $2.99 .. great deal…

  3. Garbagehead

    Skype and/or VOIPbuster accomplish the same thing at fairly sane pricing too. Much as I love Google, (and as the article points out), it’s not available outside of the US.

  4. Lalywizz

    A better option for me: NetTalk

    NetTalk is a an app for iPhone/iPod/iPad. Once you’ve created your free account, you can turn any iPad or iPod touch into a phone (you just need to have the Apple headset/microphone).

    With this app you can make calls over wifi/3G/Edge. There is no charge made in the US or Canada.

    • gedsm

      I cannot login thru the Nettalk ver. 1.16 app on iPad 2 (May 23 update) — even tho the Nettalk site confirms I have a validated account. Nettalk tech support 866 967 1063 says no support for this free app! I have a slick adapter from Speech Recognition Systems and the boom mic headset I use with Google Call Phone on my PC works great on iPad. Touching Log in just takes me back to the orig netTalk blue screen.

  5. Diego

    Nice guide, but I am not sure why we need GVConnect. Talkatone alone seems to do the job pretty well… Is it because of the interface for the iPad?

  6. Chris

    I’m doing something similar, except using Skype instead of talkatone. Works pretty well. Went with Skype because of the voice quality. Haven’t tried talkatone, how is it?

  7. Does this require a subscription to Talkatone? When I try and do it, GV Connect switches focus to Talkatone, but Talkatone only shows the subscription notification, and does not dial anything.

      • I have google voice, in addition to regular google accounts. I have used the same account in both gv connect and talkatone. I have included the full username including in GV connect. That detail does make it work instead of showing the subscription notification.

        If I want to receive incoming phone calls, should I return to GV Connect, or stay in Talkatone? Do I have to keep one or the other in the foreground in order to receive incoming calls?

    • I really don’t think so. I don’t have a TalkaTone subscription and it works for me here in the U.S. When making calls in the U.S.

      Did you configure your Google Voice account in both GV Connect and TalkaTone? You do have a Google Voice account, not just a standard Google account.

  8. I’ve thought about this since I rarely use any voice minutes from my $40/month AT&T plan. If only Apple made a smaller, iPhone sized version of iPad 3G, this would be the perfect option.

    Also, I think GV Mobile+ just released a universal version, bit don’t know about Talkatone compatibility.