All projects: DIY-IT Project Guide
This project: The Ultimate Google Voice How-to Guide (2014 Edition)
Note: This article is part of a 14-article series on getting the most out of Google Voice. We are currently updating this and the other articles, and adding new ones. You may find this to be a work-in-progress for a few weeks while we update the series.
Let's look at how you can use Google Voice from your iPhone, how you can display your Google Voice number as your Caller ID, and how you can make minutes-free Google Voice VoIP calls via WiFi.
This article assumes you've already got a working Google Voice account and it's linked to your phone. If you don't, please read the earlier articles in this series.
The basics: the Google Voice iPhone app
After a long struggle, the Google Voice app finally arrived on the iPhone back in November 2010. For those of you moving to Google Voice now, that battle is merely a historical backdrop for a very useful tool.
There are some very tangible benefits to using Google Voice on the iPhone. The first is that you get free text messages. You can send and receive as many text messages as you want from your Google Voice phone number, and you won't be charged a penny.
The second benefit (and the most important to me) is that you can make outgoing calls from Google Voice, and when you do, the Caller ID seen by the person you're calling is your Google Voice number, not your iPhone number. I don't like giving out my cell phone number. I'd much rather people have one number they can reach me at, regardless of what phone it's attached to.
You have more control of your ncoming calls, too. I like how I can use Google Voice to sculpt which calls I get, and when. Since callers will be calling you on your Google Voice number, you can use all of those wonderful Google Voice features to determine who gets through and when.
Finally, you can use Google Voice to set your answering message. In that way, regardless of whether someone rings through to your phone or not, they'll get your Google Voice answering message.
Linking voicemail to your phone
If you want to use Google Voice's voicemail, log into your Google Voice account on the Web, go to Voice Settings, and on the Phones tab, find your phone and click "Activate Google voicemail on this phone".
You'll be asked to type in a strange sequence of digits on your Phone app's number pad. Once you do, you'll get a set of status messages that indicate successful completion of the voicemail integration process.
Make sure you have a good mobile connection. I had no end of problems when I couldn't get good AT&T connectivity in my new house.
Install Google's Google Voice app
There are quite a number of Google Voice applications on the iPhone app store, but the one from Google is the canonical choice.
Next up: Outgoing calls with your GV caller ID and minutes-free VoIP calls...