Using Google Voice (or similar) to forward calls and texts
January 7, 2013 11:44 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering porting my personal cell phone to Google Voice so that calls and texts can be forwarded to my newly acquired work cell phone. If you've done this, please see my specific questions/concerns.

What I want to accomplish:

1) Save between $600-700/yr by cancelling my personal cell phone plan.
2) Not have to give any contacts a new phone number.
3) Not have to carry two phones.

From what I can see at Google Voice's website, I should be able to port my personal # to them for a $20 fee. After that, the service is free to use. It seems that I should not have a problem forwarding calls to my work phone. However, there are some questions/concerns I have:

A) I can't confirm whether or not text messages can be forwarded. Does anyone know if this is possible?
B) I assume that there is no way for calls from my new work phone to appear as they come from my personal #. If there is a way, please let me know.
C) If it's possible to forward text messages to my work phone and I reply, will the recipient see it come from my work #? I assume yes, but I'm asking just in case it's possible.
D) When the time comes that I want to port my personal # back to a cell phone provider, will I have any problems? Similarly, do I own my personal # or am I giving up any rights by porting it to Google?
E) Are there better alternatives to Google Voice? I don't mind paying a small monthly fee if it does everything else I mentioned.
F) Are there any issues that made you regret doing this?

Thanks for you time.
posted by Swede78 to Technology (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A. Text messages are forwarded
B. You can have calls made from your work phone appear as your GV #. Android integrates it seamlessly. iOS you will have to use the GV app to dial with.
C. I believe that GV messages cannot be replied with another number.
posted by wongcorgi at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2013

Is your work phone a smartphone? If so, what type? Does it have a data plan?

Also - food for thought: if you do all your personal communication through your work phone, it raises potential privacy issues if there's anything in there you wouldn't like your boss or IT dept to know about...
posted by kickingtheground at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2013

A/C. Text messages will forward; note, though that MMS doesn't work with Google Voice. Your reply will look like it's coming from your Google Voice number.
B. If your work phone is a Blackberry, Apple or Android smartphone, you can install the Google Voice app and make VOIP calls/texts from the app. The calls and texts will come from your Google Voice number. Otherwise, you can use the Google Voice website from the browser on your phone.
D. You can port back out of Google Voice. You just have to unlock it first.

Note that Google Voice is free through the end of 2013; they will likely extend it as a free service again, but there are no guarantees.
posted by payoto at 11:56 AM on January 7, 2013

Response by poster: My new work phone is a Samsung Galaxy SII w/ AT&T. Android v4.0.4. I have a no-limit plan for calls, data, and messaging. As far as privacy, I understand that I'm giving up a bit there. I'm not really worried about my personal text messages being snooped through, which I doubt would happen anyway. And, I've already asked and been given permission to use it for personal use.

Thanks for the responses so far. @kickingtheground; Do MMS messages include regular text messages (sms?) with pictures attached? My personal phone is not a smartphone, so I don't think I've had MMS capability with it.
posted by Swede78 at 12:10 PM on January 7, 2013

Please note that I misspoke above; Google Voice apps use your minutes, not VOIP.
posted by payoto at 12:12 PM on January 7, 2013

Ok, good, Android. That makes it easy.

You install the google voice app. You can set it so that, for every outgoing call, you can select whether it uses GV or not (yes for personal calls, no for business calls, and everyone will see the correct callback number).

For SMS - I actually disable SMS forwarding, and use the GV app. Texts sent to my GV are pushed to the app over data - it's just as fast as SMS. Texts sent to the business number show up in the regular text app. Everything is kept separate, and everyone gets your texts as being 'from' the correct number.

There is no way, I think, to send picture attachments to text messages over GV. If you want to text pictures to your friends, it will have to be from your work number. If you receive a picture message to your GV number, however, it will be forwarded to your email.
posted by kickingtheground at 12:22 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing wongcorgi above - text messages are forwarded and if you call out via the Google Voice app (iOS) the call appears to go to a random number but shows up as coming from your Google Voice number.

Keep in mind that international texts are dodgy - I can receive texts from family overseas to my Google Voice number but can't respond to them via Google Voice text messaging.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:50 PM on January 7, 2013

Everything everyone above has said is true and correct. I second kickingtheground's suggestion to disable text forwarding and use the app exclusively - otherwise you'll get messages in duplicate (triplicate if you also forward to your email).

Since you're looking at all possible angles, one thing no one has mentioned (because it should be rather obvious) is that if you're in a no data zone (no 3G/4G/wifi), then you will not be able to use your Google Voice number to call or text from. You'll still receive calls via the forwarding service.

Otherwise, GV pretty does what it says on the tin.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 12:57 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

GV can do everything you asked for in the question. I have my GSIII set to default to using my GV number for out bound calls and texts. I have also ported a home land line number to GV although that took two steps. Land line to cell phone, cell phone to GV.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:06 PM on January 7, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the feedback, everyone! I have to say, it almost sounds too good to be true... to get all this service for free (minus the $20 porting fee). One last question... I was reading in GV's forum about people having problems porting from their providers. Anyone have an issue with porting from US Cellular? They've really been a good provider, but if I can eliminate a phone bill, why not? Thanks again!
posted by Swede78 at 2:26 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I can speak for VZ. It worked fine, but took 5 business days.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:32 PM on January 7, 2013

I've been using Google Voice for about 5 years (formerly on BB, now on Android). The only real gotcha is that text messages (when they are forwarded) will show up as coming from Google's forwarding number. So, in your message list, it shows as (some weird number you don't recognize), and then when you open the text it will say: "Firstname Lastname*: Text message here." You reply, and your reply similarly goes to this unknown number, and they somehow route it out to the original sender.

I believe there is a way to have GV handle outbound calls by default, but I'm pretty new to Android so I'm not sure. On BB I used to open the GV app and just dial, and the call would go out from my GV number.

*assuming Firstname Lastname is one of your saved contacts in Google, otherwise it just has their phone number
posted by getawaysticks at 5:13 PM on January 7, 2013

Response by poster: Something else I just thought of... what happens with unanswered calls? I have a voicemail box with US Cellular now. If I port to GV, I lose that. So, will callers be able to leave a message in my new work phone's voicemail if they call my personal number (being forwarded by Google)? Thanks everyone!
posted by Swede78 at 2:22 PM on January 8, 2013

Response by poster: @wongcorgi: You posted: "B. You can have calls made from your work phone appear as your GV #."

Others have made similar comments. It just occurred to me that I may be misunderstanding something. When you say GV#, is that some random number Google assigns to your account, or will it be my personal # I have ported to GV?
posted by Swede78 at 2:26 PM on January 8, 2013

It will be the number you ported or if you don't port, the number you chose when signing up to GV. If someone calls your GV number it will leave a VM on the GV system. You can have a transcript emailed to you. If they call the cell phone number directly, there are two options you can chose. One, is to have those VM's routed to GV too (the caller does not know your GV number) or you could leave it and have a VM with your phone's carrier in addition to the GV one. I actually have all my calls go to the GV voice mail because I like the transcript and the text of missed calls.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:21 PM on January 8, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks JohnnyGunn. I'll be porting over shortly.
posted by Swede78 at 4:15 PM on January 8, 2013

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