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 (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:
- Under Settings, set the Start Calls From setting to Google Talk.
- Enable the Call using Talkatone setting.
- 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:
- Under Settings, set the Call Forwarding setting to Google Talk.
- Make sure you are logged in to your Google Account in Talkatone.
- 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.