Saturday, March 28, 2009

Google Voice: interface for WAP browser and other tricks

I have one of those cell phones that isn't a fancy cutting-edge touchscreen phone/PDA. It does have a WAP browser. I like it. And since I can use the mobile Gmail client on it, I thought to wonder whether something similar is available for Google Voice. It turns out that it is:

On your phone's browser, enter the URL, and you will wind up at the URL The interface is nice and clean. I actually like it more that the web interface. It seems to offer every feature that the web client does. (This seems likely to mean that any voice mail you receive will be transcribed and available here as text.) Most importantly, it gives a "Quick Call" option and an SMS option, allowing you to place calls or send text messages that appear to come from (because they are routed through) your Google Voice number, and are without additional charge. The only disadvantage to connecting directly from your phone is that the number must be manually entered, or else found in the Contacts part of the Google Voice interface.

But there is a workaround:

From a GrandCentral Google Group thread:

GV has a nifty feature that you may use to store and call your contacts' cell phones and show your GV number on their phones. This only works with contacts with cell phones that can send and receive text messages.

(1) First make sure you can receive your contacts' calls and messages on your cell phone (If you have set up a particular contact so that their calls are not sent to your cell phone this will not work)

(2) Using GV website's SMS feature send them a message and ask them to reply to it.

(3) When you receive your contact's reply on your cell phone you will notice that it apparently comes from a phone number in the "406" area code. This is a number the GV has assigned to your contact for your account only. Save this number in your cell phone as your contact's phone number.

(4) Call this number next time you want to make a call to your contact from one of your GV recognized phones. The call will go from your phone to GV, GV will know that you are trying to call your contact, it will ring their phones and show your GV account number instead of the number of the phone you are dialing from.

I have been testing this method and so far it seems to work. It is a partial solution to your question but it is definitely more convenient than going through the GV phone menu routine. If you find a kink in this method please publish it as a response to this answer.

This 406 number is assigned for "your" account to "your" contact - so it will be unique to you. The same 406 number may be attached to another person's account for their contacts and it becomes unique to them. The way it works is when you call the 406 number from one of your GV recognized phones it goes to the Google server, the server identifies the originator of the call (you), find out which of your contact it has assigned that 406 number to, and then calls that person's cell phone. According to one Google employee this assignment of the 406 number to the contacts of each account holder will be maintained on a permanent basis so once you have saved the number you may just dial it to reach the contact any time in the future.

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